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Waitemata Dental Cuts Start Avalanche

17 July 2002

Waitemata Dental Cuts Start Avalanche Of Health Cuts

Low income people in the Waitemata are set to lose urgent dental services because the Waitemata District Health Board is having to cut services to reduce the deficit, says National Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry.

"Low income people who are in pain won't be able to get attention because the board simply can't continue to provide this subsidised service when it is facing a projected deficit of $16 million in the 2001-02 financial year.

"The district health boards have to find $120m in cuts in the next financial year to reduce their deficits. The first cuts to services are starting to appear just before the election but we are going to see an avalanche of cuts after the election.

"Waitemata board papers indicate that consideration of cuts to fertility and dental services are just the tip of the iceberg. The board has instructed managers to identify 'options in a number of other areas'. These 'options' should be made public so people know exactly which services are next for the chopping block.

"The Government has instructed district health boards to reduce their deficits so they can breakeven. It is totally unrealistic to expect boards to reduce a $200m deficit back to zero when the Government itself hasn't funded them to do so.

"New Zealanders must vote for the health services they want, rather than cuts and patients being forced to go to Australia for cancer treatment. National takes health seriously. We will wipe the boards' deficits and put more money into health," Mr Sowry said.


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