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Kaitaia Needs More Than A Band Aid: Bradford

7 April 2004

Kaitaia needs more than a band aid: Bradford

Northland-based Green MP Sue Bradford says the Minister of Health's statements in the House today will reinforce confusion in the Far North over the future of Kaitaia Hospital.

Ms Bradford will be speaking at a rally in Kaitaia tomorrow that many locals see as their last chance to save full hospital services in the town.

"The Government is spending $9 million on upgrading Kaitaia Hospital and I welcome that investment," said Ms Bradford, the Green Spokesperson on Social Services.

"But the Minister's answers to my questions in the House today confirm that she has no intention of restoring full after-hours emergency services. When Kaitaia people secured a promise from her just before the last election that their hospital would be saved, it was full 24-hour surgery that they were most concerned about.

"Today Annette King was quite explicit that transfers to Whangarei and Auckland will continue. With the possibility of up to eighty helicopter transfers a year, at a cost of $4500 each, and numerous road transfers being needed, there will be little or no money saved in return for this serious compromise in patient safety.

"Ms King also seems to believe what the Northland District Health Board is telling her - that local people have largely accepted a permanent withdrawal of 24-hour surgery. In fact, a recent petition of 176 local businesses showed that 171 were in favour of the retention of such a service.

"While everyone welcomes new funding, many do not accept it as a substitute for the restoration of full services. Most are convinced that their hospital is going to be downgraded over coming years until they are left with nothing more than a glorified clinic.

"The Minister should ensure that the people of the Far North have full emergency services locally, otherwise her Government's Rural Health Strategy is nothing more than posturing," said Ms Bradford.

What: Sue Bradford speaking at Kaitaia Hospital rally
Where: March leaves from Mitre 10 car park and proceed to south end of town for rally
When: March leaves at Noon, Thursday, 8 April


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