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Govt breaks funding promise to rural GPs

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

11 March 2003

Govt breaks funding promise to rural GPs and communities

The Government run down of the New Zealand health service is pitching cash strapped district health boards against rural GPs for funding, as both struggle to deliver services, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"The reports of a survey out today which show district health boards (DHBs) are keeping up to 60% of the funding allocated for a scheme to help doctors are disturbing. "It makes a joke of the 'significant extra funding' for rural health the Government announced before last years' election. This funding was supposed to address doctor shortages but many practices have not seen a dollar of it.

"Instead cash-strapped DHBs carrying large deficits are keeping the money to spend in other ways. This is a repeat of boards using money meant to be ring fenced for mental health on other services, and in Wellington, funding for cardiac surgery being spent elsewhere while patients miss out.

"Health Minister Annette King made great statements last year about bringing in rural GP retention schemes and boosting funding and access to rural health services, but once again from this Government there is no accountability.

"The Ministry has failed yet again to monitor the situation to see if the retention and recruitment of rural GPs is improved. It shouldn't take a survey by a United States health specialist to expose this problem.

"People in rural communities continue to struggle to get the services they need. Rural practices can't get doctors and the Minister is accountable for this," Dr Scott said. Ends

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