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PM Lacks Understanding Of Health Issues

PM Lacks Understanding Of Health Issues

Tuesday 20 Jan 2004 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today called on Prime Minister Helen Clark to admit that her Government has abused its position as a monopoly health employer, in light of her weekend assurance that Cabinet would "do some stuff on waiting times".

"Just this weekend, Ms Clark announced that hospitals will receive more cash for elective, non-urgent surgery - and completely ignored the fact that we suffer from a shortage of health professionals," Mrs Roy said.

"Clearly, the Prime Minister has learned little since her days as Health Minister - when she made the infamous claim that nurses should realise `the gravy train is over' - and she is unclear on just who she expects to perform this extra surgery.

"Chronic staff shortages have already left many hospitals throughout the country struggling to carry out their present contractual commitments. Labour's philosophical opposition to private healthcare will obviously rule private hospitals out as an option.

"While Ms Clark cheerfully ignores the loss of our health professionals overseas, she does pay attention to opinion polls - which show the public is very concerned about health, particularly about surgery waiting times.

"She clearly feels that a little more funding for orthopaedic surgery - as well as a little `improved performance' by already overworked staff - will do the trick. But our health services are too large and complicated for such poll-driven decision-making to do any good.

"The thought of Cabinet trying to micro-manage surgical services does not inspire confidence. I am calling on Labour to be realistic - what we need is a sustained programme to stem, and then reverse, the loss of doctors and nurses," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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