TOP will invest in a proactive, evidence-based, patient-centred healthcare system.
COVID-19 has been an immense challenge. If we didn’t appreciate how important it is to be a healthy nation before COVID-19, we certainly do now.
TOP has always had an excellent health policy that emphasises sickness prevention, and this year we’ve updated it with a few things we know you feel are important too.
- Tax sugar and junk food
- Free dental care for 1 in 5 Kiwis (needs-based)
- Create an accessible fruit and veggie scheme
- Lower the cost of primary care appointments
- Increase investment in mental health prevention
- Strengthen public health
- Address period poverty
- Ensure an independent Public Health Commission
Given that prevention and early intervention are four times more effective than paying for more operations, we need to shift our focus to these initiatives. We can’t keep relying on the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff - we must put a fence at the top.
TOP will invest in prevention
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us and the world that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To shore up our defences and prepare for the next one, public health experts have called for the reinstallation of the independent Public Health Commission - TOP will make this happen! This commission will also have other crucial functions, such as fighting our many local epidemics like rheumatic fever, measles and diabetes.
To support the Public Health Commission's work TOP will also target one of the biggest causes of health issues - unhealthy food. Even our most vulnerable children are asking the government to take a stand on unhealthy food to help support them and their families.
Tax sugar, Primary Care, Dental Care
TOP will tax sugar and other junk food. We would also include a ban on all junk food marketing to kids and ensure local communities have a greater say on the availability of junk food outlets in their area.
A 20% tax on all junk food would raise approximately $1 billion. TOP will reinvest the money to ensure improved access to:
- Nutritious Food - Every community has access to an affordable, at cost fruit and veg box scheme. We will do this by expanding existing fruit and veg co-ops.
- Primary Care - Boost funding of primary health care through introducing a risk-adjusted capitation model (much like we are doing for schools). This would ensure that the practices dealing with at-risk clients get more money to invest in prevention. The goal is to keep GP visits below $10 and make nurse or nutritionist visits free. Covid-19 has shown that primary care is foundational to our health system function.
- Dental Care - Ensure free dental care for under 18s and introduce free dental care for our most deprived people (around 20% of the population).
As part of this TOP supports an increased investment in mental health prevention made by this government. However, we believe the best way to prevent mental health problems is by ensuring people have a strong identity and sense of belonging in communities. TOP would see greater funding of community groups as a way to reduce mental health problems. To fund this, TOP stands by our 2017 policy of increasing the excise on alcohol.
In pre-Covid-19 New Zealand, demands on our healthcare system were already outstripping capacity, and those demands are still set to climb.
Add to this:
- An equity gap - Health outcomes are worse across population groups, especially for Māori and Pacific Peoples.
- An ageing population - 1 in 5 New Zealanders will be aged 65+ by 2032.
- Growing costs - Healthcare costs are predicted to increase by 40%, from 6c in every dollar to 10c by 2060.
NZ cannot afford this reality. Our government has a moral and financial responsibility to ensure this doesn’t happen.