Little still deceiving on health ‘cuts’

Labour has been claiming that health funding has been cut for some time. There have been questions about their claims, as actual health funding has continually been increased while National has been in Government.

Last week David Farrar took them to task over their claims in Labour’s lies on health spending

For some years now Labour have lied and lied and said that National has cut health spending by $1.7 billion. The media run this as a statement of fact often, despite it having no basis in truth.

The most generous interpretation you can make is that Labour is saying that they have calculated the level of funding they think Vote Health needs, and that it is $1.7 billion more. But that is very different to saying it is a cut.

If you are on a $60,000 a year salary and ask for $70,000 but only get $64,000 then you can’t say your salary has been cut by $6,000.

Now let’s look at what at what Vote Health has done between 2008 and Budget 2017.

  • Nominal Vote Health – increased by $4.85 billion a year from $11.92 billion to $16.77 billion – a 40.7% increase
  • Real Vote Health – increased by $3.00 billion a year from $13.77 billion to $16.77 billion – a 21.8% increase
  • Real Vote Health per capita – increased by $341 a year from $3,233 to $3,574 – a 10.5% increase

You can claim it is not enough. You can claim more is needed. You can claim growing elderly population needs more funding. But you cannot claim it has been cut. That is a lie.

This blew up further over Labour reaction to John Key getting a knighthood – see Labour called ‘lying losers’ over Sir John pettiness.

But Andrew Little is resolutely continuing to claim ‘cuts’. He has in part made some adjustment to how he words it but keeps reverting to claiming ‘cuts’.

1 News:  ‘The system is so overstretched’ – Andrew Little says health system underfunded by $2.3 billion

Economic consultants Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, conducted a new study which found funding needed to restore the health system to the level it was seven years ago to keep up with cost pressures will rise to $2.3 billion by June next year, up from $1.7 billion last year.

Mr Little told TVNZ 1’s Breakfast programme he is not surprised the Capital and Coast District Health Board is reportedly putting up pre-op patients in motels due to the funding shortfall and being “overstretched.”

“In a single year alone, if we really wanted the health system to be funded to the level it needed to be… the budget of a couple of weeks ago would’ve put an extra $220 million into the health funding alone,” Mr Little said.

“What it comes down to is after nine years, we’ve got a government that hasn’t funded health services to keep up with the growing population as well as the change of population, the age of the population.

“The demands on health services are what they are and they’re growing exponentially, and particularly in mental health services and we’ve got a government that’s not funding it properly. That’s why people are missing out.”

The ‘shortfall’ is how much less health funding there is than Labour thinks/says there should be, not a reduction in funding. As Leader of the Opposition it’s fair enough for Little to push for more health funding.

This was backed by Labour’s General Secretary:

More tweets:

That inevitably means cuts to services all over the place, and 1000s of people missing out on care.

Case in point – news today in Wgtn that patients have been forced to stay in motels.

And increased, unnecessary pressure placed on our health workers.

But according to National’s shouty cheerleaders the system has had so much new money, everything is great and we should all just shut up.

Time for a fresh approach to healthcare- Labour will restore Nationals funding shortfall and that will mean better care & restored services.

Kirton linked to a press release from Little:  $2.3 billion shortfall in health

This didn’t mention cuts but stated:

“cost pressures has widened to a massive $2.3 billion, says Labour Leader Andrew Little”

“The huge sums of money missing from health”

“the gap since 2009/10 in core crown health expenditure that is required to meet cost pressures grow from $1.7 billion last year to $2.3 billion by June 2018″

“This funding shortfall was not addressed in National’s latest Budget.”

Health funding increased in the latest budget.

““This funding shortfall is just another glaring example of how National after nine years has steadily eroded New Zealand’s social foundations.”

““Labour will restore the health funding shortfall over time…”

No indication of how much Labour will ‘restore’ and over what time.

That was all carefully worded, but Little followed up on Facebook yesterday:


In 1938, New Zealand became the first country in the world with universal healthcare, ushered in by our first Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

It meant New Zealanders were able to access quality, free healthcare whenever they needed it. For years, our health system was the envy of the world.

Things are very different now. National has massively cut funding from our health system in real terms, with last year’s shortfall of $1.7 billion set to rise to $2.3 billion by next June.

“National has massively cut funding” is blatantly misleading. Providing less funding than Labour says there should be is not a cut, it’s less of an increase than Labour says their should be.

What’s the cost of those health cuts?

There’s the ‘cuts’ word again.

It’s a mental health system in crisis, where patients are being discharged to caravan parks. It’s people who can’t afford to go to the doctor. It’s elective surgery becoming harder and harder to qualify for. It’s health workers who are overstretched, exhausted, and operating without the resources they need to properly care for their patients.

National has neglected health. They’ve had nine years to tackle the big issues facing New Zealand, and they’ve failed.

Normal sort of general rhetorical criticism from the Opposition.

As part of Labour’s fresh approach, we’ll restore their massive health cuts, so that all New Zealanders can get the healthcare they need, when they need it.

Back to “their massive health cuts”. This is not just blatantly misleading, in this case it is outright wrong.

This deceit has been pointed out to Little and Labour often enough, but Little persists with pushing his ‘cuts’ lines. ‘Lie’ is a fair description.


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  8th June 2017

    I feel a little sorry for Little as he pretty much has nothing to campaign on, last time there were constant stories of health woes in the media Annette King was the minister. When you get to my age ones cohorts spend quite a bit of time with health issues and most seem quite delighted with the service.
    Welfare most agree is running well, health seems to be working, Akl house prices are easing, unemployment is low, we are in surplus, exports are going well so there is not really any siren call for change from a recently excitable part of the electorate, certainly no Corbyn or Sanders movement emerging. Even the Greens slipped in the latest poll despite the media adulation of their list and magazine shoots, if I was Little I would be very depressed.

  2. alloytoo

     /  8th June 2017

    Andrew’s imagined figure is really the level of “waste” they would introduce into the system. Which is of course why we measure success by outcomes and not inputs.


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