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Grand opening by PM one day, closure the next

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

26 June 2002

Grand opening by PM one day, closure the next

The axe hangs over the inpatient ward at Hawera Hospital within a week of Prime Minister Helen Clark opening of the redeveloped hospital, National Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"The dust had barely settled on the Prime Minister's campaign trail when staff were told today the inpatient ward would close for two months from July 1.

Staff were told the 'temporary closure' was because the hospital had not been able to secure locum cover. Staff received a letter and a form for them indicate their preferred options regarding re-deployment during the closure.

"We have been informed that the board has since instructed management to put the suspensions on hold and wait a week before staff re-deployment takes place.

"The Prime Minister will have us believe that everything in the health sector is fine and then we see cuts like this in Hawera, the after hours surgery closure at Kaitaia, non urgent surgery cancelled in Dunedin and cuts to services at Auckland DHB.

"This is just the beginning of widespread health cuts, with 10 out of 21 boards indicating they will have to reduce services because of their large deficits.

"The Government must keep the Hawera ward open because once it closes hospital wards it is unlikely to reopen them, and closures have a domino effect on other services.

"Staff and patients are in limbo over the future of the Hawera ward. Helen Clark and her Minister must explain why they are running the health system down," Mr Sowry said.


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