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Postpone Risky Health Reforms - ACT

Monday 28th Feb 2000 Ken Shirley
Media Release -- Health

Restructuring in the health system must be postponed while an investigation's held into sky-rocketing costs predicted by The Treasury, ACT health spokesman Ken Shirley said today.

"For five weeks the Labour Government has been sitting on information showing its health reforms have not been properly costed, with a warning that high, unbudgeted costs may follow.

"Not knowing of The Treasury's concerns, we have been trying to warn the Government that its health restructuring had not been thought through properly, but received only dismissive comments in return.

"Now the cat is out of the bag. Under the Official Information Act, the Minister of Finance has been forced to release a report from The Treasury which says Government proposals to restructure the health system contain 'many outstanding problems and operational and fiscal risks', Ken Shirley said.

"The Treasury is damning of the Minister of Health's plans. It says there are no cost estimates of implementing the changes, no future running costs, and no examination of whether the proposed new district health boards may cost more than the savings the new system is meant to make.

"Treasury also told the Government it was specifically concerned that the Minister of Health's proposals for changing the health system do not relate to what it has said are its aims for the sector.

"I am writing urgently to the Minister of Health asking that she takes special note of the Treasury's findings and postpone the health restructuring until its concerns have been worked through. We cannot just stand by and allow further disruptions and upheaval to patients and staff while an uncosted, ideological programme is forced through against official advice," Ken Shirley said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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