Budget 2024: Budget fails those living with cancer


Budget 2024: Budget fails those living with cancer

Media release from the Cancer Society
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The Cancer Society of New Zealand is deeply disappointed by the lack of additional funding for cancer medicines in today’s Budget 2024 announcement and is concerned by a number of important items that are notably absent.

Medicines Funding

“Our hearts go out to those living with cancer and their whānau who had their hopes raised by National’s election promise last August to fund 13 cancer drugs, only to see them crushed today,” says Cancer Society National Executive Dr Rachael Hart.

“Today’s announcement means that many will continue to struggle to afford the medicines they desperately need, leading to unnecessary suffering and potentially worse health outcomes.”

The Cancer Society believes all New Zealanders should have access to modern medicines when they need them, regardless of their economic status or background, says Dr Hart.

“While we appreciate the government has made a verbal commitment to improving Pharmac, it's important to recognise that without additional funding, these efforts can only go so far. 

“Enhancing Pharmac without additional funding is dead-end. We need both commitment and resources to make meaningful progress.”

“Health Minister Dr Reti has ‘not ruled out funding the drugs in future budgets’. But this may be too late. The government had previously stated that funding these medicines was a priority, but this priority has now been deferred by a year. People who need the drugs now may not have that year to wait.”

Workforce Investment

The Cancer Society welcomes the signalled investments in workforce and agrees New Zealand needs more homegrown doctors.

“But we have acute shortages now and can’t afford to wait for training. We will be looking for more detail on how the Government plans to attract cancer specialists from overseas and improve conditions to keep the ones we already have here.”


The Cancer Society is also pleased to see the investment in breast cancer screening, although Dr Hart says the roll-out “is slower than we had understood it would be” and the phased approach needs to focus on priority populations.

The Cancer Society is concerned there is no detail in the Budget documents of continued funding for cervical screening for those groups who are under-screened. “We want more information about what will happen to that programme when the current funding ends in June,” says Dr Hart.

Where are the Smokefree Initiatives?

With Budget 2024 falling on the eve of World Smokefree Day the Cancer Society had hoped to see an announcement about this Government’s investment towards a Smokefree Aotearoa.

“We see no investment in prevention, such as stop smoking services. When this Government repealed the Smokefree legislation it promised more investment in helping people quit,” says Dr Hart. “However, we see no evidence of that commitment in the current budget. Is this another promise that has been forgotten?”