Only ACT Is Campaigning on Health
Extract of a speech by Hon Richard Prebble, Leader ACT NZ
At the Taupo Yacht Club, The Terrace, Taupo,
On Tuesday 9th July 2002, at 7.30pm
The voters of New Zealand regard health as a major issue in this election campaign - and yet no party has been addressing the issue, except ACT.
The ACT Party has this week announced practical solutions to the problem of hospital waiting lists. ACT has released its Patient Guarantee. This means that where a patient has been waiting past the medically acceptable time for treatment, the local hospital board must book the patient into a private hospital for the operation, treatment or service.
This policy will, over time, save money.
When I first announced this policy, the associate Minister of Health, Ruth Dyson, claimed it was an attack on the public health system.
That's nonsense. Health in New Zealand is already a mixture of public and private. Chemists and GPs are both private, and yet the government subsidises GP visits and pharmaceuticals.
I have called today for Helen Clark to acknowledge that there is no way to reduce hospital waiting lists without using the resources of the private sector.
It is significant that not one independent health professional has been prepared to state that Labour can achieve its promise of reducing waiting lists. ACT's policy is the only practical, workable solution.
Five years ago, ACC switched from using the public sector for accident victims, to a mixture of public and private - and in doing so, not only slashed waiting times but also reduced costs. If the publicly owned ACC is prepared to use the private sector for operations for accident victims, why can't public hospital boards use a mixture of public and private hospitals for people who are sick?
ACT is determined to make health an issue in this election. This is part of ACT's strategy to campaign on the issues that matter to New Zealanders - not on personalities.
ACT's polling shows that one of the reasons ACT is rising in the polls so strongly is that voters appreciate ACT's positive solutions, and the positive way that ACT is campaigning.