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Public Health System Still Feeling The Pressure

26 October 2000

Public Health System Still Feeling The Pressure, Says United

Funding problems and the difficulty of rural and provincial areas recruiting and retaining qualified medical staff is reaching serious proportions. Reports that Hawera Hospital in Taranaki faces serious downgrading of services and Kidz First Children's Hospital in South Auckland has been forced to scavenge for financial support, says United New Zealand leader Hon Peter Dunne.

"Unfortunately, these two cases are merely indicative of the problems facing the public health sector.

"In Hawera locals are understandably fearful that their hospital may be downgraded to clinic status because of difficulties recruiting a new physician. As it is, serious surgical cases are already being sent to New Plymouth," says Mr Dunne.

He says this situation comes at the same time as South Auckland Health is fundraising in the community to fund the new Kidz First Children's Hospital. Manukau City Council has received requests for $19,000 of funding for basic equipment such as cots and caregivers' beds.

"It is a sorry situation when children's health needs to be funded directly by the community. Clearly the Government must urgently address this rather bizarre situation.

"The public will quickly lose confidence in their public health system if these situations are allowed to continue. In Taranaki, where there are clearly serious funding problems, public confidence can only be eroded further by the news that their health authority must pay a former employee more than $70,000 for a personal grievance case - funds that should be invested in health services.

"The Government must urgently address these serious problems in the health sector and deliver a vision and strategy for public health in New Zealand," says Mr Dunne.

END




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