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Labour + Taxpayers' Money = Fewer Services

Wed, 19 May 2004

Labour + Taxpayers' Money = Fewer Services

Heather Roy - Press Releases - Health

Increasing amounts of taxpayers' money poured into health, and resulting in reduced services, seems to be the Labour Government's new way of running the health sector, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Today's announcement, that public hospital operations have dropped - despite massive funding injections - follows last week's release of Mental Health Commission figures showing that more money has resulted in less services for the public," Mrs Roy said.

"Since becoming the Government in 1999, Labour has increased mental health spending by $321 million on mental health, but has still failed to provide anything that even remotely resembles a reasonable mental health system.

"And, this financial year, the Government plans to spend almost $800 million. New Zealand now spends more per capita on mental health than Australia or the US - excluding what the Corrections Department spends on `special units', or psychiatric wards in prisons.

"MHC figures show that three percent of all New Zealanders suffer from a serious mental illness. But, in the six months to June 2003, only 1.6 percent of the population was seen by specialist mental health services - down from 1.7 percent in the first half of the previous year.

"Mental health in New Zealand seems to go hand-in-hand with tragedy and heartache. While Ms King spends increasing amounts of taxpayers' money on mental health, psychiatric patients continually slip through the cracks of our fragmented health system. This is not value for money.

"The problem is that money is not the answer; I know it, health professionals know it - in fact, the only person who doesn't know is the Minister, who is continuing the `cycle of tragedy' she railed against as Opposition health spokesman.

"Pouring millions of dollars into mental health does nothing if there are no adequate measures to ensure proper outcomes. If the Minister does not wake up to the flaws in her health policies soon, hers will be a legacy of tragedy and pain," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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