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Health vouchers a step in the right direction

Dr Paul Hutchison National Associate Health Spokesman

28 July 2004

Health vouchers a step in the right direction

Using vouchers to give patients faster access to treatment is a step in the right direction by two Auckland hospitals, says National’s Associate Health spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.

Auckland City and Starship hospitals, in conjunction with private medical group White Cross, are offering patients facing long delays in public A&E waiting rooms a voucher for more timely treatment at White Cross clinics.

Dr Hutchison says the move is unprecedented under this Labour Government, which has until now forced people to use public hospitals despite them being unable to meet patients’ needs.

“In the past, Labour howled when hospitals bought in part charges. This latest move, endorsed by Minister King, is a de facto part charge given that the patients come in good faith to be treated free of charge by hospitals.

“This is a major policy U-turn.”

Dr Hutchison says Labour’s policies have put politics above people for too long.

“Auckland District Health Board should be commended for putting its patients first.

“A greater use of private sector primary care and private hospitals, particularly elective surgery, would remove many of the bottlenecks that are stopping New Zealanders getting the care they desperately need and deserve.

“Minister King, who has for so long decried voucher systems, is now endorsing a de facto voucher system. In so much she is admitting that the public system cannot meet patients’ needs. Choice through the private sector is the realistic way that New Zealanders can access optimal health services,” says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS

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