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King's Royal Health Disaster

King's Royal Health Disaster

Wednesday 19 May 2004 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today demanded to know when Health Minister Annette King would finally realise that it is a change in management - not ever-increasing amounts of taxpayers' money - that would fix the problems in our health system.

"Recent media reports showing that public hospital operations have declined, despite Labour pouring more money into the system, are no surprise to anyone," Mrs Roy said.

"Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen has already voiced his concerns to Ms King that, despite health funding increases each year since Labour has been in office, the health sector has been unable to improve efficiencies and productivity.

"But Ms King refuses to see that money is not the universal answer. She ignores the fact that - despite more funding this financial year - District Health Boards are under increasing pressure to meet their surgical commitments, with a number of boards changing their Financially Sustainable Thresholds for categories of surgery in a bid to control their budgets.

"The increased funding is now being diverted away from surgery to cover workforce issues. Ms King allocated 2.55 percent for wage and salary increases, but nurses in many areas recently received a four percent rise. This funding shortfall will continue to deteriorate because of the move to MECAs and national contracts which allow for collective bargaining.

"Resulting efficiency costs mean operation costs will keep rising, placing DHBs under more pressure as the financial year goes on. The predicted $80 million total DHB deficit for the 03/04 financial year is under threat, with budget blowouts in the December/January figures.

"Dr Cullen is losing patience with the health sector's inability to live within its means, but Ms King is doing nothing to ease the impossibility of the DHBs' task. Extra pressure means elective surgery has been cut. Deficits will blow out, and waiting lists will continue to grow. Ms King is sending us headlong into a medical crisis," 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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