'The system is so overstretched' - Andrew Little says health system underfunded by $2.3 billion

A shortage of hospital beds in Wellington has reportedly forced the Capital and Coast District Health Board to put up pre-op patients in motels, which Labour Leader Andrew Little says is not surprising due to a $2.3 billion shortfall in the health system. 

Andrew Little said he is not surprised Capital and Coast District Health Board is reportedly putting pre-op patients up in motels due to the funding shortfall. Source: Breakfast

Economic consultants Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, conducted a new study which found funding needed to restore the health system to the level it was seven years ago to keep up with cost pressures will rise to $2.3 billion by June next year, up from $1.7 billion last year. 

Mr Little told TVNZ 1's Breakfast programmed he is not surprised the Capital and Coast District Health Board is reportedly putting up pre-op patients in motels due to the funding shortfall and being "overstretched."

"In a single year alone, if we really wanted the health system to be funded to the level it needed to be... the budget of a couple of weeks ago would've put an extra $220 million into the health funding alone," Mr Little said.

"So that gives you an idea of how short it is and therefore why we are seeing patients put up in motel beds, why people can't get specialist appointments, why health services are so stretched as badly as they are."

"What it comes down to is after nine years, we've got a government that hasn't funded health services to keep up with the growing population as well as the change of population, the age of the population. 

"They know that every year, with the population growing and aging of course they are going to have to top it up but it's a bit like saying listen, you've got your car you want to sell to me for $10,000, I've only got $8,000 and you know what, that's the most I've ever paid for a car and so you must sell the car to me for $8,000. that's actually not how it works.

"The demands on health services are what they are and they're growing exponentially, and particularly in mental health services and we've got a government that's not funding it properly. That's why people are missing out."

In this year's Budget the government said $1.8b was going to District Health Boards, with a $200m boost for mental health services.