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Anderton The Invisible Man On Hillmorton

21 January 2002

Alec Neill, National's List MP for Wigram, today accused Jim Anderton of ignoring the mental health time-bomb that the Hillmorton closure is creating.

"When I was the Member for Waitaki Jim Anderton came into my electorate prior to the 1996 election, when I was fighting to maintain health services, and claimed that he would save the hospital. He also said if Alliance were in Government he would guarantee that no hospitals would close.

"Now that Jim Anderton is in Government and a hospital is closing in his own backyard he suddenly becomes the invisible man.

"Transferring almost 130 patients around the country has potentially devastating consequences for these people as they are uprooted from their support networks. Jim Anderton claims to stand up for the vulnerable and under-privileged but it seems that is nothing but hot air.

"What use are his unwanted People's Bank branches when he silently lets hospitals close in his electorate?

"Patients and their families are ringing my office with stories of how they are unsure as to whether they, or their loved ones, will be moved to the other end of the country or even to a prison facility.

Constituents are telling me this upheaval is having a detrimental affect on patient health and safety.

Alec Neill, who successfully fought to retain health services and supported the building of a new hospital in North Otago, said the Hillmorton debacle was resulting in some disgraceful treatment of patients and their families. "It is beyond me how Jim Anderton as the local MP and Deputy Prime Minister can continue to play the innocent bystander," Mr Neill said.

Ends

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