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Govt ignores health crisis in Budget

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

24 May 2001

Govt ignores health crisis in Budget

The Government putting an additional $246 million into health in the Budget is only barely enough to keep up with the inflation rate, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"The Budget shows health spending of $412 million but take away the approximately $160 million transfer from ACC and only $246 million new money is going to health.

"This tiny 3.5 percent increase is much smaller than last year's increase of close to 6 percent. The future is even more gloomy for health because Treasury projections in the Budget show health increases of around only 1.5 percent in the next three years.

"This is the smallest increase to health and its essential services since 1992, and makes a mockery of Helen Clarks' comments today that health is one of the Government's top priorities.

"In contrast this Government promised before the last election that it would put more funding towards health and that it would reduce cancer patient waiting lists. Annette King has again broken her promises and exposed how ineffective she is in winning money for health services.

"She claims to be fiscally responsible by not giving more money to health. This budget outlines how the country's District Health Boards will be in deficit $39 million. How responsible is pushing these boards which are already running up huge deficits due to this Government's underfunding, further into deficit?

"Thankfully she has been responsible in continuing with the $84 million a year funding for elective surgery allocated by National when it was in Government.

"Despite the Health Minister's Budget claim that 'there can be no better way of investing in people and protecting New Zealanders than to invest in improving their health' funding for health in the Budget is sorely lacking.

"Hospitals will continue to struggle for day to day funding and the sick will continue to be left waiting around for services," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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