We’re breaking down different parties' policies on some of the biggest issues in Aotearoa right now. Here's health.
These are condensed summaries, to make it as easy as possible for young voters to get key, relevant information. Parties may have more policies, or there may be more information or more policy detail beyond what we have been able to fit in here.
There are links to the full set of a party’s policies at the end of each section if you want more details or to see where it sits in their policy portfolio.
Parties are listed in order of the most recent 1News Verian poll, and there’s further info about our methodology at the bottom of this article.
Here’s what the parties are promising to do:
Nurses and midwives who stay and work in New Zealand for five years after graduating will have $4500 taken off their student loan per year, up to a total of $22,500 off their student loan debt.
National would offer $10,000 grants to up to 1000 overseas nurses and midwives a year and qualified overseas nurses, midwives and their families will be eligible for an automatic six-month visa without needing a job.
National also wants to set up a third medical school at Waikato University.
National wants to give equal pay to hospital and GP clinic nurses and directly pay GP clinics a $10-per patient incentive for immunisations to boost vaccination rates. It also wants to extend after-birth hospital stays from two days to three, costing $19 million a year.
National wants to reinstate the $5 fee for prescriptions (for everyone except senior citizens and people on low incomes) that Labour removed earlier this year and use the money to put $70 million a year towards Pharmac cancer treatments.
Extend free breast cancer screening to age 74 and lower the bowel cancer screening age to 45 to match Australia. Currently, free bowel cancer screening in New Zealand is for people aged 60 to 74.
Additionally, it wants to provide free glucose monitors for under-18s with type-1 diabetes, increase psychiatric registrar places to 50 a year over four years, and clinical psychologist places to 40.
National also wants to scrap the Māori Health Authority and instead have a Māori health directorate inside the Ministry of Health.
National’s five targets for health would be:
- 95% of emergency department patients discharged or transferred within six hours.
- 85% of cancer patients receive management within 31 days of decision to treat.
- 95% of two-year-olds fully immunised with the age-appropriate vaccines.
- Reduction in people waiting more than four months to see a specialist (target to be set in government).
- Reduction in people waiting more than four months for surgery (target to be set in government).
You can read all of National’s health policies here.
Labour would fund free basic dental care (check-ups, cleanings, X-rays, basic fillings and extractions) for under-24s from 2025, and under-30s by 2026.
They would also increase limits on the number of dental students by 50% to train more dentists.
The dental policy will cost $390 million over the four years from 2024.
Labour also wants to increase the number of doctors being trained each year. They would train 95 extra from 2025-2027 and from 2027, they want to train 335 doctors every year. The policy is expected to cost $924 million over 10 years.
Labour is also promising to progressively extend the living wage to education and health workers, scrap starting-out and training wages and increase the minimum wage ($22.70 an hour) to be more in line with the living wage ($26 a hour).
Labour also wants equal pay for hospital and GP clinic nurses and has promised to commit $1 billion to build a new hospital for Hawke's Bay - the party says it will start a business case on this within its first 100 days of a new term if re-elected.
The party also wants to raise the breast cancer screening age from 69 to 74, make cervical screening free between the ages of 25-69 and lower the age for free bowel cancer screening.
As well as increase Pharmac funding by $1b within four years.
Labour wants to reduce the number of vape shops across the country to 600 and licence all vape retailers. It will increase penalties for people selling vapes to children from $5k to $10k (and from $10k to $15k for retailers), ban vape advertising and sponsorships and ban placing vape products on storefronts.
You can read all of Labour’s health policies here.
The Green Party
The Green Party is promising free basic dental care for all New Zealanders.
The plan is expected to cost over $3 billion over three years, which the party says will be funded by a wealth tax that would impact 0.7% of New Zealanders (couples worth more than $4 million, minus mortgages and other debt, and individuals worth more than $2m).
The Green Party wants to establish an independent Disability Commission so that disability services are more responsive.
The party would double the disability allowance and ensure those with a health condition or disability continue to receive a benefit regardless of their relationship status.
It also wants to improve pay, conditions and training for disability service staff and caregivers and provide more support and financial assistance for families struggling to support children with high and complex needs.
Additionally, it wants to implement accessibility legislation that is co-designed by disabled people and enforce that all new public housing meets these accessibility standards and existing public housing must be updated to also meet these standards.
The Green Party wants to phase out all broadcast, billboard, and print advertising of alcohol, except at the point of sale. It would also ban event sponsorship by alcohol brands. The party would create a fund to support this phase-out.
This includes expanding youth services like Piki, Mana Ake and Youth One Stop Shops throughout Aotearoa, having dedicated support for post-natal mental health and implementing the Every Life Matters suicide prevention strategy.
The party will also review ACC and extend cover to non-accidental and mental injuries. As well as ban ACC investment in harmful products and services that increase injuries or have consequences on the environment. It also wants to change ACC to a pay-as-you-go model.
You can read all of the Green Party’s health policies here.
The ACT party wants an independent review of Pharmac’s operating model for greater transparency in how it makes decisions. It would also require performance benchmarking for Pharmac to make sure its “performance is up to scratch”.
The ACT Party wants to publicly subsidise more common elective surgeries in private hospitals to reduce the number of patients on waitlists. The party says this would utilise spare private hospital capacity and free up public hospital operating theatres for urgent and major surgeries.
To attract more healthcare professionals from overseas, ACT would establish a new immigration policy. The party would also work with the Medical Council, College of General Practitioners and medical schools to find more efficient ways of evaluating overseas health workers’ qualifications and quicker pathways for upskilling.
ACT would establish Mental Health and Addiction New Zealand (MHANZ) on a national scale to allow people to choose between a range of rehab providers, “rather than simply accepting what their DHB offers”.
People with addiction issues will face losing their benefit if they refuse treatment or don't make efforts to find work, ACT Party leader David Seymour says.
It would redirect $2 billion a year from the Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora to go towards the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, a centralised commissioning agency for mental health services.
ACT is also promising to abolish Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority and expand physician assistants' licences (non-regulated health professionals) to allow them to provide more services to support GPs.
You can read all of ACT’s health policies here.
New Zealand First
New Zealand First would abolish the Māori Health Authority and “other race-based initiatives” and return to a single health system.
The party would replace Pharmac with a new “patient-focussed medicines buying agency” and increase its funding.
The party says New Zealand’s doctor and nurse shortage will be an “immigration priority”. Clinical staff trained and registered in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, the US and the UK would be eligible for residence within 30 days and permanent residence within two years if they commit to eight years of work in New Zealand.
The party will also amend the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 to fast-track New Zealand Medical Council registered doctors into general practice.
Make $925 million available each year for a GP-controlled waitlist reduction fund to "buy specialist appointments and operations".
The party will also establish Digital Health Clinics led by nurses and GP specialists, so that rural and hard-to-staff areas have access to health care.
The party is promising to reinstate these workers into their jobs and “end all vaccine mandates still operating in some organisations and medical facilities''. It will also hold an independent inquiry into New Zealand’s Covid-19 response.
New Zealand First is also promising to repeal the Therapeutic Products Act, give automatic approval of medicines approved by at least two peer regulators and give $10 million over three years to Mike King’s Gumboot Friday mental health charity.
Additionally, it will ensure more funding for Plunket and St John Ambulance.
You can read all of New Zealand First’s health policies here.
Te Pāti Māori
Te Pāti Māori says New Zealand’s health system has systemic racism which has failed Māori and led to poorer health outcomes. It would divert 25% of all health funding to Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority to invest in Māori health.
This funding would also go towards implementing mātauranga Māori models of health, establishing a kaupapa Māori mental health service and establishing a Māori ACC Authority.
It would also provide free primary care, dental and medication deliveries for families earning under $60,000 and bring in a Māori health card to ensure funding is linked to the patient, not the service.
Te Pāti Māori also wants to drop Māori cancer screening by 10 years, increase Pharmac funding and invest $1 billion a year in health workforce development.
Te Pāti Māori would establish a Mana Hauā (disability) Authority with a quarter of all disability funding.
It would create kaupapa Māori disability organisations, enforce consultation with Māori disability groups before creating disability policy and legislation and require all new homes to be fully accessible.
It would immediately abolish the minimum wage exemption for Tangata Hauā (disabled people) and ensure people with disabilities continue to receive a benefit regardless of their relationship status.
It would also ensure antenatal screening is not biased towards termination of pregnancy if a disability is diagnosed.
You can read the health policies for Te Pāti Māori here.
Notes on our methodology
How we chose the parties: We’ve included parties who currently have MPs in Parliament, (aka Labour, National, Greens, ACT and Te Pāti Māori) or parties which are likely to win one electorate seat or meet the 5% threshold to get into Parliament (aka NZ First), according to what recent polls are showing. Political parties need to get at least 5% of the party vote or win at least one electorate seat to get into Parliament.
These are condensed summaries: To make it as easy as possible for young voters to get key, relevant information. Parties may have more policies or there may be more information or more policy detail beyond what we have been able to fit in here.
These summaries were accurate as of the time of publication: But parties can release policies right up until the day before election day, so some parties may announce policies after we have published.
How will these policies be paid for? Where possible we’ve tried to include information about what the parties say these policies will cost and how they will be paid for, but not every announcement has that information.
Difference between election promises and government policy announcements:
Some of the things Labour has announced over the last few months are government policy announcements (where work can start on them as soon as they are announced), and some are election promises (where they only happen if that party gets elected). It all gets a bit confusing because both of these things can be referred to as policies, so where possible we’ve tried to indicate which is which.
Check out our other election coverage: