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Holidays Offer No Break For DHBs

Holidays Offer No Break For DHBs

Labour's new Holidays Act has imposed a minimum $20 million a year cost onto District Health Boards, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Health Ministry and Health Board sources have confirmed to me that the cost to Boards will be met for the 2004/2005 financial year, but compensation for the current quarter - April 1-30 June 2004 - is not guaranteed," Mrs Roy said.

"It is outrageous that Labour should impose these costs without factoring them into DHB funding for this year. This exposes hospitals and businesses to the huge cost that is resulting from Labour's pandering to its union backers.

"After Queens Birthday weekend - the final public holiday of the DHB financial year - the real costs to our hospitals are now disturbingly apparent. Hospitals don't have the option of closing if it becomes too expensive to open on public holidays. Instead, they must pay nurses and other staff time-and-a-half, as well as giving them a day in lieu.

"An extra $20 million in pay costs means less health services for patients. With only 2.55 percent of the health budget having been allocated for wage and salary increases - funding which is long gone - elective surgery is the easiest target.

"I call on Health Minister Annette King to front up, admit that the Government's new Holidays Act has cost New Zealand's 21 district health boards around $4 million this quarter, and to assure them that they will be compensated.

"If she doesn't, DHBs' only choices - given that most are at break-even or in deficit - are to cut services or extend their deficits," Mrs Roy said.

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