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Would The Minister Of Health Please Stand Up?

13 January 2002

Annette King's appalling lack of leadership and intervention in the face of an escalating crisis situation for health services in the South Island means Helen Clark must replace her, National's Associate Health spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

The closure of Queen Mary Hospital adds to Annette King's shocking record as Minister. Labour promised to keep Elm Court geriatric hospital open - King has signed off its closure. Labour promised to put more money into mental health, yet Hillmorton is being closed.

"Annette King must stand up and give some answers as to why these patients and their families have to suffer, and exactly how these patients are going to get treatment in future. It is not good enough for the Minister to keep washing her hands of this issue.

"Annette King has said it is up to the new DHB's to settle pay disputes. It is her two and a half years of health underfunding and major structural reform that have created Canterbury DHB's $20m deficit.

Health Link South, started under National, did a fine job of focussing on aged care and mental health services but Health Link South was the first casualty of Annette King's reforms.

"Hanmer's youth alcohol and drug beds at Queen Mary Hospital are also being closed because King cannot stand up to the bureaucrats who are pushing the politically correct ideology of deinstitutionalization over inpatient beds.

Treasury has predicted her move to population based funding will see the South Island lose $30m. The Minister is offering nothing to counter this litany of disasters for the South Island.

"Minister if you cannot show some leadership on these issues, hand over the Health portfolio to someone who can," Dr Scott said.

Ends

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