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Bureaucracy Swamps Health System

Media Release

20 May 2004

Bureaucracy Swamps Health System

“Treasury reports showing that public hospitals are performing fewer operations in spite of funding increases should be sending a loud and clear message to the Government,” said New Zealand First health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart.

“The Minister of Finance has reportedly written twice to the Minister of Health asking her to explain reduced public hospital productivity. It will be interesting to see the Minister’s response.

“The Finance Minister’s concern is shared by New Zealand First,” said Mrs Stewart.

“When the Health & Disabilities Act was passed we advised the Government to reduce the proposed number of district health boards to 16 rather than the eventual 21. The primary concern of DHB’s appears to be balancing the books rather than reducing waiting lists.

“One example of this is the action of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board in reducing the number of operations by about 12 a week last October, when it was discovered that surgeons were performing more operations than the board was funded to provide.

“When DHBs start to implement efficiencies by cutting the salaries of vital medical staff such as psychiatric registrars in order to minimise budget blowouts, as happened in Christchurch, we really have a case of the tail wagging the dog.

“New Zealanders deserve a first world health system but at present we do not have one. Throwing more taxpayers’ money at the problem will not, on its own, improve matters. It is time for the Minister to get proactive and creative and show us what she intends to do to improve matters,” said Mrs Stewart.


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