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Minister Plays Dumb On Impending Health Cuts

The Minister of Health obviously has no idea that district health boards around the country are being forced to cut services given her answers to questions from the Opposition in Parliament today, National's Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said.

"It's time Annette King read some of the district health board papers media reports about health services being cut due to lack of funding.

In board papers the Waitemata DHB says it 'cannot deliver a balanced budget without significant service reductions', and Auckland DHB says it will have to 'make some tough decisions about health prioritise including reductions in services'. Last week the Southland DHB was reported to be considering reducing services because of a tight budget.

"When asked about this Annette King would not even acknowledge that health services are likely to be reduced. All she could say was that she hadn't seen any plans of proposed cuts. It's time she learnt what is really going on in health.

"The Minister said health boards couldn't cut services without her approval. Well it was she who told boards they wouldn't get any more money but they had to provide the same services. The $1.2 billion funding announced for health in December was less than the increases National funded in its last three years of Government.

Annette King was also out of her depth answering questions about health board members being gagged by the Minister. Mr Sowry asked why Waitemata District Health Board members were warned that they were responsible to the Minister, rather than the community that elected them.

"It is clear DHBs are being stamped on from above. Communities elected these boards and they have a right to know what services will and won't be delivered," Mr Sowry said.


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