The ruling National Party in New Zealand has announced $40 million in funding to reduce waiting times for cancer treatment. The $40 million corpus will be spent to ensure that by mid-2017, at least 90 per cent of patients are given treatment within 62 days of their GP first referring them to a specialist. This figure is around 60 per cent now.
The party also declared $50 million for elective surgery and people with bone, muscle and joint problems such as arthritis, reported New Zealand Herald.
Prime Minister John Key made this announcement on the eve of Daffodil Day at the Cancer Society's Domain Lodge in Auckland, which is a residence for recovering cancer patients.
Cancer Scare for Kiwis
It may be recalled that a recent study had warned that New Zealanders are more likely to die of cancer than Australians. It was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal and carried details of death and incidence rates in lung cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
The funding promised by National will be for a period of three years. It has been provisioned in the Budget. But the announcement was put on hold until Thursday.
National also promised a health fund of $50 million for those suffering from joints, muscle and bone pain and promised elective surgery, if re-elected.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said the plan will have $6 million more for primary care based intervention to identify patients suffering from conditions such as arthritis.
Also, $30 million would be earmarked to increase the number of orthopaedic operations in the public health system. The fund will target 2,250 hip, knee and joint operations in the next three years. An additional $14 million would be allotted for delivering an extra 1,500 general surgeries in the hernia, gallstone and vein related categories.
Ryall said, besides the increases in elective surgeries, there would be an extra 14,500 operations a year by 2016 to 2017.
Prime Minister John Key said the funding would be borne by the $1.5 billion new spending that National has provisioned for it. But Key did not spell out how much of it will be spent on overall healthcare.