Budget positive but at a cost to primary healthcare

Published: Fri 25 May 2012 06:32 PM
Budget positive but at a cost to primary healthcare, according to New Zealand medical students
As the future of the medical workforce, the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) welcomes initiatives in yesterday’s Budget aimed at reducing health inequalities, but has concerns some changes will reduce access to primary healthcare.
“In this challenging economic climate, it is pleasing to see that health continues to be a priority,” says NZMSA President Chen-Xu.
“We are facing a rise in the cost of health services because of an ageing population, emerging obesity and diabetes epidemics, and the increase of promising but expensive medical interventions.”
“The only way to reduce health care demands in the long term is to address the social determinants of health, such as housing, income inequalities, and access to primary healthcare.”
“We therefore welcome Budget initiatives that strengthen preventative health measures and address social factors, such as the increase in tobacco tax, free GP visits for under 6s and the extra funding for Warm-Up New Zealand home insulation.”
“While we applaud the additional funding for cancer and elective services, we fear that the increase in prescription charges from $3 to $5 come at the cost of increasing barriers to primary healthcare for low and fixed-income families, who are struggling with the rising cost of living.”
“There is strong evidence that countries with good primary healthcare have fewer inequalities in health outcomes, a more cost-effective health system and better health overall.”
NZMSA, in line with our recent position statement on health equity ratified at the annual NZMSA Conference 2012, welcomes the moves in yesterday’s Budget that reduce health inequalities and calls for the reconsideration of policies that increase barriers to primary healthcare.
The New Zealand Medical Students’ Association is the national advocacy body for medical students in New Zealand.

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