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Law empowers Minister to sort out health dispute

Health Minister’s own law empowers her to sort health dispute

Health Minister Annette King is ignoring her own changes to the law which give her the powers to intervene to make sure district health boards are providing necessary services, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

“Annette King said in Opposition the buck would stop with her in health and she would change the law to ensure it did.

“Last year she introduced Section 32 of the Health and Disability Act which gives her wide ranging powers to direct any DHB on any issue, and under Section 33 require that boards supply services.

“The Minister is hiding behind industrial relations legislation, but she can stop this dispute, and the risk that hundreds of patients are being put under.

“Annette King changed the law so that she could get control and take responsibility. Her word that the buck stops with her doesn’t stand up now.

“Specialists are telling me today that pressure is mounting to bursting point at North Shore and Middlemore Hospitals, which are taking patients from Auckland Hospital. With at least two days of the strike still to go this is a serious situation.

Dr Scott said compulsory arbitration could be considered to resolve the dispute in a very serious situation where patient’s lives were at risk.

Dr Scott spoke to Auckland Mayor John Banks and met with specialists in Auckland today to discuss the dispute.

“The thousands of patients facing disruption and discomfort in this dispute is the price New Zealanders are paying for the huge health deficit - $237m - under Labour. I invite Annette King to come to Auckland to take the responsibility she wanted and help sort this problem out,” Dr Scott said.

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