National releases $800m health plan ahead of election, including increased funding for Pharmac

National wants to increase funding for Pharmac and have reiterated earlier promises to establish a rare disorder fund of $20 million over four years and a dedicated cancer drug fund costing $200 million over four years. 

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Today’s proposal includes more money for Pharmac, establishing dedicated funds for cancer drugs and rare disorders. Source: 1 NEWS

Should it be elected, National said it would maintain Pharmac funding increases at the same rate as health budget increases. 

The party today cemented its previous promises of faster elective surgeries, make a dedicated border protection agency to protect Kiwis from Covid-19 and to set up $20m of targeted funding to reduce mortality rates of gynecological cancer.

It also wants to increase funding for cochlear implants and create a "surgical mesh register to allow for the full scope of the problem to be revealed, and to allow for proactive action to be taken to work with patients who may be affected", the policy states. 

National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti said the new initiatives had been costed at $800m over four years.

"Even before Covid-19’s emergence we were seeing cracks in our health system," he said. 

"These are practical solutions that will have a tangible impact on New Zealander’s lives for generations to come."

National also want to add primary care navigators - non-clinical frontline staff - to every general practice, costing $64m a year. 

"General practitioners are often under significant time pressure which can lead to longer waiting times, and leaves them little time to address anything but their patient’s immediate health concerns,” Reti says.

"Primary care navigators will support general practitioners by providing the additional time to talk to patients who need help accessing the right services.

Earlier this year, then National health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said it was "pathetic" that $10 million of extra funding had been allocated to Pharmac for the next year out of the $160 million announced at the Budget for the next four years.

"That's going to put an extraordinary amount of pressure even on business as usual because of the increased costs of medicines and transport costs," he said.

"This isn’t going anywhere near what’s needed just to stand still."