By suggesting a need to rein in the cost of healthcare and stating, “the cost of health keeps rising,” Roger Styles presents a misleading picture of healthcare funding in this country. Since similar incorrect claims underpinned the unnecessary, unsuccessful and very expensive health reforms of the 1990s.
The facts are that health expenditure in New Zealand as a proportion of GDP rose steadily from the 1950s until about 1980 but declined between 1980 and 1992. More recent Treasury data shows Vote Health’s total operational expenditure has decreased as a proportion of GDP from 6.32 per cent in 2009/10 to 5.95 per cent in 2014/15. Furthermore, as not noted by Styles, this level of funding is low by international standards, New Zealand being ranked 26th out of 32 OECD countries in 2013.
We find it hard to believe an article in the Herald would present information which has the potential to encourage yet further cuts in an already underfunded public healthcare system. Is there a hidden agenda here?
Mr Styles, along with many of our politicians, seems unable to grasp that while delayed spending on healthcare might be politically expedient in the short term it is financially irresponsible in the longer term.
Researchers at the University of Oxford concluded, from a study of data from 25 EU countries between 1995 and 2010, that “investment in (education and) health contribute to economic growth in the long term, by creating a healthier (better educated) and therefore more productive labour force.”
This issue needs an open, honest debate before our upcoming elections.
Gary Nicholls, professor emeritus, Philip Bagshaw, clinical associate professor,
University of Otago, Christchurch.