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Aged Care Legal Case About Ministerial Openess

HealthCare Providers NZ & Association of Residential Care Homes

18 November 2007

Aged Care Legal Case About Ministerial Openess And Accountability

Providers of quality care for elderly Kiwis are to hold the Government accountable and challenge moves by District Health Boards in a High Court case that begins in Wellington on Monday.

The chief executive of HealthCare Providers NZ, Martin Taylor, said today that District Health Boards (DHBs) – following a Ministerial directive – have been secretly working with unions to orchestrate a rise in the number of collective agreements, using budget funding money as leverage.

As a result of working with the unions, the DHBs have been attempting to forcibly insert new clauses in providers’ contracts – clauses that do not exist anywhere else in the health sector. “The DHB clauses are not part of any other contract between a government agency and the private sector and demonstrate Ministerial interference. The Hon Pete Hodgson’s fingerprints are all over this.”

Mr Taylor said, “to date I am not aware of any provider who has not passed on the funding they received for caregiver wages. Apart of course from those providers still in collective negotiations.”

Mr Taylor said Monday’s Wellington High Court hearing will clarify the law around Ministerial direction and test the accountability and openness of DHBs.

The case concerns issues at the heart of a parliamentary democracy.

- Is it appropriate for DHBs, at the Minister’s direction, to act in a manner inconsistent with their legislation?

- Is it appropriate to fund providers for a wage increase of between 70 - 80 cents and then force them to pass on a dollar?

- Is it appropriate for the DHBs to work with the Unions and then use DHB monopoly purchasing power to regulate wage rates in the private health sector?

- Do DHBs as government agencies and as contractors have an obligation to be open and honest in contract negotiations?

“This case is not about whether providers have passed on all of the funding targeted for caregivers and cleaners. From day one, provider’s agreed to pass on every cent of the caregiver wage increase and be audited to ensure compliance. But, DHBs refused to accept this offer because this is not what they want nor is it what they have been instructed to do by a Health Minister,” Mr Taylor said.


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