National to help more Kiwis fight cancer

A National Government will pay for 13 cancer treatments that are helping extend survival rates in Australia, by making them available to patients in New Zealand, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“Each year, more than 25,000 Kiwis are diagnosed with cancer and more than 10,000 tragically lose their lives. Almost every New Zealander will have some experience with cancer in their lifetime – either personally or through a friend, colleague or loved one.

“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, and head and neck cancers that provide significant clinical benefits and are funded in Australia but not in New Zealand.

“Under National, New Zealanders will not have to leave the country, mortgage their home, or start a Givealittle page to fund potentially life-saving and life-extending treatments that are proven to work and are readily available across the Tasman.

“National will allocate $280 million in ring-fenced funding to PHARMAC over four years to pay for these therapies. 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.

“Under National, superannuitants and those on low-incomes will receive free prescriptions. For everyone else, the total amount any family will pay for prescriptions in a year will be capped at $100.

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

“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.

“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.”