(National Party media release)

Following a damning survey of Pharmac, National can also reveal documents received under OIA show the delayed independent inquiry into the national drug purchasing agency is a toothless whitewash and another nail in the coffin for Andrew Little, says National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“OIA documents show that, prior to the health budget this year, officials were recommending that Andrew Little defer the $200 million Pharmac package to 2022 or 2023, so that findings of the independent review could be taken into account. Instead, Andrew Little went ahead despite knowing there would be no money to act on any recommendations arising from the inquiry.

“This is a slap in the face for New Zealanders who were told the independent Pharmac inquiry would address their concerns.

“This follows on from statements by Andrew Little that Pharmac is exploring regularising new child cancer medicines, meaning they might no longer be free for children with cancer in hospitals.

“My private members’ bill will fix this, by allowing the administering of child cancer medicines to remain free in public hospitals.

“National campaigned on a three-point funding plan for Pharmac that would have boosted funding by up to 50 per cent more than Labour’s plan by also indexing Pharmac funding to vote health funding.

“All parts of New Zealand’s health system are suffering as Andrew Little slavishly clings to a health restructuring plan that is building layers and layers of bureaucracy and funding an army of consultants in Wellington, instead of funding medicines and clearing the waiting lists for tens-of-thousands of New Zealanders.

“While the Government’s Covid plan is aimless, Andrew Little’s health plan is at least headed in one direction – downwards.”