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Extra $400m Health Spending Will Go On Salaries

Extra $400 Million Health Spending Will Go On Salaries

The news that Canterbury nurses have called off their strike is welcome but the government must be worried by the Canterbury District Health Board's statement that it has increased its debt so it can make a more generous pay offer, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.

"The health board's debt was already $108.9 million, according to the answer to a Parliamentary question by the ACT Party last month.

"The nurses have rejected a 6 percent pay offer so it now appears that an increase of more than 6 percent will flow right through the public health sector. The nurses were seeking 13 percent, so an increase of about 9 percent now seems possible.

"A 9 percent increase across the board in the hospital sector will mean that all the government's extra $400 million health spending, which doesn't start until next financial year, will be taken up by salaries.

"ACT has warned the government repeatedly that the Employment Relations Act gives unions in a monopoly health system the power to demand and get away with any pay rise they ask for.

"Previous health rounds have indicated that settlements tend to escalate. For example, young doctors have never settled for the same percentage pay rise as the nurses - they've always demanded and got more.

"This isn't the end of the health dispute, it's just another day in it," Mr Prebble said.


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