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Three Billion To Health Spin - It's $1.2b

Roger Sowry National Defence Spokesperson

10 December 2001

Three billion to health spin - it's $1.2b

Today's health funding announcement by Annette King won't be enough to hose down the mammoth underfunding problems she's created in health, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"The announcement, dressed up as a $3 billion funding boost, is really only $400 million new funding each year. It is simply spin to include the annual $295 million population growth as an increase - it is current policy to include population growth adjusters.

"New funding capped at $1.2 billion for three years holds little comfort for cash strapped, debt ridden hospital services. The Government is increasing spending for primary care, rather than addressing the core issue of today's problems -underfunding to hospitals.

"District health boards are projecting a $241 million deficit for the current financial year, but that's over $300 million if you add the $63.8 million deficit from the year 2000-01. This makes today's true 'extra funding' announcement to be $900 million.

"The Government's been forced to make this funding announcement early because health services are in such turmoil.

"Labour has criticised the way National managed health. Today's three-in-one funding announcement is smaller than National spent in its last three years of Government.

"Between 1996-99 National increased health operational spending by $1.26 billion or by 25% in nominal terms, or 20.6% in real terms. Today's increase in operational spending for the years 2002-04 is a 21% increase in nominal terms or 15.7% in real terms, assuming consumer price index growth of 1.5%.

"National increased health funding on average between 6-7% each year from 1994, while this Government didn't increase spending to health at all in this year's budget.

"It is most concerning that cash-strapped hospital services, who are obviously desperately in need, are again largely left out of the equation," Mr Sowry said.


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