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One day the buck stops, the next day it doesn't

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott National Associate Health Spokesperson

27 February 2002

One day the buck stops, the next day it doesn't

Health Minister Annette King is confused.

"One minute she says she's taking responsibility for growing problems in health. Then she writes to newspapers around the country refuting that. Today in Parliament she admitted to saying on television that the buck stops with her," National's Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said.

"Annette King couldn't tell Parliament why queues for operations are growing longer and waiting lists are now spiralling out of control in Canterbury, compared to National slashing the same queues in 1998-99," National Associate Health Spokesperson Lynda Scott said.

Between December 2000 and December 2001 the number of orthopaedic Canterbury District Health Board patients waiting for surgery leapt by 558, and the number waiting for first assessment increased by 318.

"All the Minister could say to this was that funding areas like this one-for-one created a greater expectation from the public. With an answer like that Annette King can't claim to be resolving these issues in health," Dr Scott said.

Mr Sowry said the Minister might be in a state of confusion with her portfolio. "What is clear is that she is intent on providing the sort of health system suggested by the chief executive of Auckland District Health Board, a Second World health system.

"If the buck stops with the Minister she must take responsibility for the Auckland and Canterbury District Health Board's hitting funding crises.

"These huge waiting times and suggestions that those aged over 85 shouldn't get hip replacements are surely not the better services her Government promised when they increased taxes to pay for 'better health services'," Mr Sowry said.


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