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Health Sector A Holidays Act Casualty

Health Sector A Holidays Act Casualty

Monday 23 Aug 2004
Heather Roy
Press Releases -- Health

Hospitals and resthomes, faced with forced increases to their operating budgets - to cover higher wage bills and sick leave provisions - are among the worst casualties of the Government's Holidays Act, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"All businesses have been hard hit by Labour's Holidays Act, which came into force on April 1 2004, but hospitals and resthomes - which must provide 24/7 care - do not have the option of closing should the increased cost make their business financially unsound," Mrs Roy said.

"For some time, I have been asking Health Minister Annette King and Treasury what effect the Holidays Act's implementation will have on hospitals and resthomes. Treasury has not estimated the increased costs on the health sector for the period April 1 2004-June 30 2004.

"In this time, there were four public holidays, for which the health sector has had to pay time-and-a-half plus a day in lieu. According to Treasury, the Health Ministry is:

`collecting and collating information from DHBs to enable them to make a robust estimate of impact costs. It is likely that this process will take several months to complete because of the complexity of the workforce and the range of operational issues affecting the costs'.

"It seems unlikely that District Health Boards will be reimbursed for the four public holidays they have already had to pay out for. It is also unclear whether or not they will be reimbursed for future public holidays.

"Ms King, and Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen, have put DHBs under extreme pressure to ensure they break even. Yet they impose large financial impediments - that boards have been unable to plan for - in their way.

"No business can operate under these conditions. Hospitals and resthomes have been presented with a mission impossible, which will see even more cuts in healthcare," 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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