“The Government should adopt my amendment to the Pae Ora Bill to ensure the 750,000 New Zealanders who live rurally or remotely don’t continue to be overlooked and forgotten by our health system,” says ACT’s Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Currently the health reforms have a Hauora Maōri Strategy, Pacific Health Strategy, Disability Strategy, and a Women’s Strategy, but not a Rural Health strategy. This is despite rural health being mentioned over 80 times in the Health and Disability System Review and it being identified that people living in rural towns can have poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy.

“Rural New Zealand needs real change. This Government is content to ignore rural communities and hope the problem goes away. ACT is addressing the issue and is calling on the other parties to support us in doing so.

“I’ve sent letters to both National and Labour calling for them to support this amendment but as of yet have received no response.

“I asked Andrew Little in Parliament why rural New Zealanders are getting a raw deal while almost every other demographic gets its own strategy, and whether these reforms will see any improvement for them. He had no answer and couldn’t even confirm that rural New Zealand will get any greater access to mental health services or midwives.

“If either party want to bring a much-needed focus to rural health and ensure a better future for New Zealanders in rural communities, they’ll vote in favour of my amendment when the Pae Ora Bill comes back to Parliament. It’s the right thing to do.”

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