Health Plan targets all-round childcare

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi –

National believes New Zealanders deserve high-quality health services and delivering better services remains our top priority.

Health spending is up to a record $16.1 billion up, an increase of $4.3bn under this government. We invested an additional $2.2 billion on health in our 2016 Budget.

Claims that health funding has been cut are incorrect.

Primary Care

Primary care funding has increased by $230 million over the past eight years, and by over $25 million in Budget 2016.

The government now spends about $890 million a year on Primary Care.

Health Survey results always include some small increases and decreases.

For example, it reports a 0.2% drop in unfilled prescriptions due to cost, and nearly 1% drop since 2011.

Margins of Error

Care needs to be taken with small changes that are within the margin of error.

For instance, the small rise in the rate of adults reporting cost as a barrier to treatment is within the margin of error. So too is the small drop in the rate of children reporting cost as a barrier – for both GP visits and after hours.

We removed the cost barrier for families through rolling out free GP visits and prescriptions for under 13, as well as free after-hours services.

Almost 800,000 children and their families are benefiting from this.

Child Health Care          

At the same time, we are focused on delivering better results for New Zealanders and their families. That is why this government has introduced initiatives committed to improving the health and well-being of Kiwi children.

This year, 543 schools will take part in Fruit in Schools, which sees high quality seasonal fruit and vegetables delivered each week.

More than 104,000 students will benefit from the Fruit in Schools programme which will also help teach them how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Up to 24 different types of fruits and vegetables are on the menu throughout the country and more than 20 million servings of produce will be dished up over the year.

The government invests about $8 million into the Fruit in Schools programme each year. This is being supported by the extra $568 million going into Health for 2016-2017.

Childhood Obesity Plan

Fruit in Schools complements the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.

New Zealand is one of the first OECD countries to have a target and a comprehensive plan to tackle childhood obesity.

The ‘Raising Healthy Kids’ target was introduced in 2016 and aims to ensure that through the ‘B4 School Check,’ children and their families are put in touch with primary healthcare professionals who can check for any clinical risk associated with obesity, encourage families to take action and monitor growth.

The ‘B4 School Check Programme’ continues to perform well, reaching 92 per cent of all four-year olds for the second year in a row since 2014-2015.

In the six months to the end of December 2016, 29,796 four-year-olds were screened, an increase on the 29,612 screened in the same period in 2015.

In 2015-2016 uptake of the ‘B4 School Check’ was also 93% among those living in high deprivation areas.

All families are encouraged to participate in the free health check.

‘B4 School Check’ providers are working with other services such as early childhood education, and focusing on hard to reach communities to encourage uptake.

Focusing on results, we are working towards specific, measurable targets to improve the lives of families, particularly the most vulnerable.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has been a Member of Parliament on National List since November 2008. He is now also Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Law and Order and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Police Minister.

Read the ‘horror stories’ of poor care in Hamilton on Pages 1 and 2 of this issue.

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