Election 2023: National promises to pay for 13 new cancer treatments if elected

The National Party is promising to give Kiwis access to 13 new cancer treatments which are already available in Australia if elected in this year's general election. 

National leader Christopher Luxon announced the policy on Monday saying every year thousands of New Zealanders die from cancer and better care is needed. 

 "Almost every New Zealander will have some experience with cancer in their lifetime - either personally or through a friend, colleague or loved one," Luxon said. 

"But despite the hard work and dedication of New Zealand's trusted healthcare professionals, cancer survival rates here lag behind Australia, partially due to Australia's broader funding of cancer medicines. 

"The New Zealand Cancer Control Agency recently identified 13 treatments for lung, bowel, kidney, melanoma, and head and neck cancers that provide significant clinical benefits and are funded in Australia but not in New Zealand."

Luxon said funding the drugs mean New Zealanders won't have to "leave the country, mortgage their home, or start a Givealittle page to fund potentially lifesaving and life-extending treatments that are proven to work and are readily available across the Tasman". 

"The cancer treatments will be available to all patients with clinical need, as assessed by their doctors.

The Party would allocate $280 million in ring-fenced funding to PHARMAC over four years to pay for the treatments. 

"We think this is a better use of taxpayers' money than paying $5 prescription fees for everyone, including those who can afford to pay it themselves," Luxon said in reference to the Labour Party's recent policy which made prescriptions free for all New Zealanders. 

Luxon said under a National government superannuitants and people on low incomes would receive free prescriptions. For everyone else, the total amount a family will pay on prescriptions would be capped at $100 a year. 

"Lifting New Zealand's game on cancer will be a priority for the next National Government. We have already announced our plan to increase the free breast cancer screening age from 69 to 74 years old, which will save around 65 lives each year," Luxon said. 

"For six years, Labour has failed Kiwis on health. It has conducted a costly and bureaucratic restructure of the health sector, while every single health metric has gone backwards.

"National will focus relentlessly on delivering better healthcare for all New Zealanders. We will increase health funding every year, and shift resources from the back-office to the frontline.

"We will restore health targets, including for cancer treatment times, to drive improvement. We will address workforce shortages by training 220 more doctors a year and offering nurses and midwives up to $22,500 in student loan forgiveness in exchange for agreeing to work in New Zealand for at least five years."