Bay News column
The feedback I have received since Budget 2015 was announced has been overwhelmingly positive. People can see that the National-led Government is keeping its promise to responsibly manage the books while delivering better public services for New Zealanders.
One of the largest expenditures in any Budget is in Health. Over the next four years National is investing around $1.7 billion into new initiatives and to meet cost pressures and population growth. Total spending has increased to a record $15.9 billion in the coming year.
It is essential we ensure that this money is being spent where it is needed most and will have the greatest benefit. Since taking office in 2008 we have focused on reducing administration costs and investing in more doctors and nurses. Under former Health Minister Tony Ryall and now Jonathan Coleman, we have streamlined health sector services to make each dollar go further.
Budget 2015 included an extra $76.1 million over four years for more hospice and palliative care services. From 1 July 2015, Bay of Plenty DHB will receive an extra $720,000 a year for Hospice Eastern Bay of Plenty and Waipuna Hospice.
This funding means the staff at these hospices will be able to better support terminally ill people at home and in aged-care facilities.
A further $98 million for elective surgery will provide New Zealanders with timely access to these services, and will also go towards improving the prevention and treatment of orthopaedic conditions.
The latest quarterly Government health targets show that for the first three quarters of the 2014/15 financial year Bay of Plenty DHB exceeded the number of planned elective procedures by 12 per cent, with 738 more operations performed than it was contracted for.
We have prioritised improving public services and results like this show it is having a real impact on New Zealanders and their families.