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Health Minister Has Lost The Plot

Media Release

15 January 2003

Health Minister Has Lost The Plot

New Zealand First Health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart, has today confirmed that New Zealand First will extend free health care to older children.

"When we introduced free doctors visits and prescriptions for the under sixes in 1997 it was with the expectation that the subsidy would be maintained relative to inflation and that the age limit would be progressively lifted," said Mrs Stewart.

"The practical problems with the Labour-led government's plan to target poorer patients for cheaper health services were predictable. Our public health service continues to be fragmented with many New Zealanders unable to access fairly priced services, or in some areas any services at all. It is becoming a third world health system wallowing under the pressures of high immigration, serious under funding as a result of an under performing economy, and the effects of interminable re-structuring.

"The $20 to $30 that some GPs are now charging for consultations with young children is indicative of the fact that the health minister has lost the plot and the bureaucratic nightmare created by her Primary Health Organisations has put up more barriers to family health care,” said Mrs Stewart.

“What we need is a government with the vision to focus on increasing economic growth and to raise spending on health in keeping with first world levels. We need to focus on families and prevention first by expanding screening and immunisation programmes and by progressively extending the age limit for free care, initially to cover all primary school children.

“What we have got is a minister who dismisses concerns over access to health services for children by saying that healthcare had never been free and that she is going to dictate what might be charged. She has lost the plot,” said Mrs Stewart.

ENDS

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