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Health Ministry balloons as reductions promised

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

28 January 2003

Health Ministry balloons while Minister promises reductions

National says it is concerned about growing numbers of staff at the Ministry of Health when the Government has said it will cut staff numbers this financial year.

"Health Minister Annette King said at the November 2001 Merck Sharp and Dome dinner in Wellington that she planned to reduce Ministry of Health staff numbers by over 20 percent in the next year.

"The Ministry of Health also told the Health Select Committee in October 26 2001 that it would 'manage down' numbers by 20 percent. It expected 200 people to leave the Ministry with half going to work at district health boards and others to sector groups.

"Instead the latest figures show that Ministry of Health increased its staffing from about 930 full time equivalents to 990 full time equivalents between June 2001 and June 2002, and that the numbers employed have doubled since 2000.

"It is clear the Minister is completely out of touch with the affect of her unnecessary restructure of the health system.

"The Minister's restructure has caused increased and unnecessary bureaucracy. Labour criticised the Health Funding Authority under National as cumbersome, but its own restructure of health is consuming a much larger bureaucracy.

"Patients are paying the price by being dropped from surgery waiting lists and given no certainty of any future surgery. The situation is so bad it drove long-time Labour supporters to hold a public meeting in Taranaki because so many people are missing out.

"The Minister must explain why the Ministry of Health seems to be growing out of proportion while patients can't get services, and give an honest picture as to why this is happening," Dr Scott said.


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