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Minister's Facade Crumbling

Minister's Facade Crumbling

The Hawkes Bay District Health Board's statement that the significant delay in having its annual plan signed off cost up to $250,000 a month is a telling indictment on the credibility of Health Minister Annette King, ACT New Zealand health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"With a deficit of $6.7 million for the 2002/03 year, and $7.6 million for 2003/04, this is a horrendous amount, caused by Government delay," said Mrs Roy.

"With only eight of the country's 21 DHBs having had their annual plans signed off, we can expect other boards' plans to emerge as the minister looks to minimise damage by announcements lost in pre-Christmas apathy and a deluge of looming bad news announcements.

"This however, is what we expect from our health minister. She has weaselled her way around oral and written questions, claiming the health sector's $200 million deficits can be cut dramatically with no cuts to service," Mrs Roy said.

"Now, Hawkes Bay DHB Acting Chief Executive John Peters says the DHB's next steps involve reconfigurations, and options for service reductions, to cut costs - contrary to Ms King's assurances that deficit reductions would not involve service cuts.

"Pleasantly, however, Mr Peters has said services may change to involve private health providers. ACT New Zealand has long advocated a useful collaboration between private and public health sectors.

"The chickens are now coming home to roost, and the Minister must now confess that cuts to services will happen. This is a disgrace to her and exposes the primacy of her interest in looking out for her own image," said Mrs Roy.

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