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NZ Public Health and Disability Bill passed

7 December 2000 Media Statement

NZ Public Health and Disability Bill passed

Health Minister Annette King said today the passing of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill through its third reading in Parliament marked the return of a genuinely public health service in New Zealand.

"There has been much debate in the past few days about details of the Bill, but I am delighted that the main thrust of the legislation has been enthusiastically supported by a majority of MPs.

"The Labour-Alliance Government has been determined from the outset to turn around some of New Zealand's appalling health statistics by taking a population health focus. We want to improve health statistics affecting all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live, their race, or their socio-economic circumstances."

Mrs King said the new public health service, based on a Ministry of Health with expanded functions and 21 District Health Boards with a majority of elected members, would empower communities to have a greater say in determining their own health needs.

"In fact, this could be called an empowering Bill. It empowers health professionals, and it empowers New Zealand communities. Now we ask everyone in the health sector to work together cooperatively and collaboratively to make this new public health service work for us all."

Mrs King said the Government had received tremendous support from health officials, both at the Ministry and the Health Funding Authority, and from health professionals in putting together the detail of the changes to the health system.

"The health sector is well prepared for the changes, most of which will come into effect from January 1 next year, though some responsibilities will be devolved to District Health Boards more gradually than that.

"The new public health service will be open and accountable. This Government's aim is to spend health's $7 billion budget fairly and wisely. We need to be able to deliver quality health care to remote parts of New Zealand, to prevent people, particularly children, becoming ill in the first place. We want people to judge our health service by the number of people we succeed in keeping out of hospital, in keeping well within their own communities."

ENDS

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