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Minister Must State Intentions On Kaitaia Hospital

Minister Must State Intentions On Kaitaia Hospital

Wednesday 17 Jul 2002

Northland-based ACT MP Dr Muriel Newman today wrote to the Minister of Health seeking a written commitment from her within the next week that she will not allow the Northland District Health Board to cut back surgical services at Kaitäia Hospital after the election.

"The people of Northland deserve to know whether the so-called solution to this crisis will be kept in place once the election is over.

"Kaitäia's problem is two-fold, firstly the Northland District Health Board, like all the others in the country, has been under funded by the Labour Government. The Government's directive for the board to balance its books and get rid of its deficit - forecast to reach nearly $10 million this year - within three years, means that services inevitably have to be cut. Kaitäia Hospital is a victim of Labour's health funding cut.

"The problems at Kaitäia are being aggravated by a critical shortage of qualified medical practitioners. This could be solved overnight. Hundreds of doctors and anaesthetists who were encouraged to come to New Zealand on the basis of their medical qualifications have subsequently been prevented from practising. Instead they are forced to work in shops, drive taxis and do labouring jobs. Not only is it ridiculous, but the Government wilfully opposed an ACT private members' bill which would have solved the problem.

"This Minister was responsible for an overall cut in health spending in real, per-person terms in the past year that has now left health boards in debt and having to play catch-up with the supposed extra funding that the Government has subsequently announced.

"The Minister is wholly accountable for any cuts to services that are now critically affecting people's lives. She can and must reassure the people of Northland now that she won't allow services vital to the wellbeing of local families to be sacrificed," Dr Newman said.


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