Government announces $92.6m for health system to cope with COVID-19

The Government has announced a $92.6m injection into the health system to help it cope with the impacts of COVID-19 - and prepare for any future outbreaks.

Revealing the package on Sunday, Health Minister David Clark said the money would go to the essential health services which had stepped up to help during the crisis.

"Many health services were called on to do much more, or to continue providing care under difficult conditions during the COVID-19 outbreak," he said.

"We know this came at a significant expense to these groups. The support we're confirming today is to meet these costs and to strengthen their ability to continue providing services."

Where the money is going:

  • $37 million for COVID-19 testing
  • $18 million for 365 critical community pharmacies
  • $5.48 million in funding for midwives
  • $10 million for DHB ventilator and respiratory equipment
  • $7.33 million to support hospices
  • $14.8 million to support the National Telehealth Service

Clark said the investment in testing will make sure the health system is able to swiftly detect and contain the disease if it re-emerges.

"Testing is the starting point for identifying and containing the spread of COVID-19," he said.

"We can now process 12,500 a day and have completed over 300,000 individual tests. That's an incredible achievement by those working in our medical labs."

The National Telehealth Service gets a boost for its border activities and contact tracing, which played a "vital role" in containing and managing the outbreak.

Midwives will get a one-off lump sum of $2500 each to make up for the additional costs they incurred as they provided essential care to pregnant, birthing and postnatal women during lockdown, Clark said.

Similarly, pharmacies and hospices get extra funding to acknowledge their work during alert level 4.

DHBs get $10 million to purchase new ventilators and other respiratory equipment needed to care for patients with severe breathing difficulties caused by the virus.

"Our success in countering COVID-19 over the last three months has given our health services the chance to further strengthen their readiness for any future outbreak and the Government is backing them to do that," Clark said.

"All of these services and their staff stepped up when we needed them to, and I believe all New Zealanders will want me to again acknowledge their vital work to protect and care for us."