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Minister Deliberately Under-Spends

Minister Deliberately Under-Spends

Tuesday 14 Sep 2004

Heather Roy - Press Releases - Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today accused Health Minister Annette King of deliberately deceiving the public over the increases in health spending that have occurred since she took office.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that last year's health budget was under-spent by more than $500 million - $188 million of this was operational funding, and $320 million was unspent capital funding," Mrs Roy said.

"The $188 million was enough operational funding to clear almost half of the 31,000 patients currently on `Active Review', awaiting such operations as $13,000 hip replacements.

"This is an absolute disgrace. More than 31,000 New Zealanders are currently languishing on `Active Review'. All have been assessed as needing operations but, because the DHBs cannot afford to perform them, are left waiting to get on the waiting list.

"Meanwhile, Ms King creates great publicity over so-called increases in health spending. Last year, she boasted of a huge increase, did not spend half a billion of it, then re-announced it again in this year's budget.

"The Minister's claims do not stand up under scrutiny. Her deception is deliberate - a fact proved by the new admission that real health spending per capita was actually cut in the 2001/2002 financial year after final figures of unspent funding were factored in.

"Both Prime Minister Helen Clark and Ms King are guilty of deliberately manipulating health funding announcements. Not spending $500 million of the recently completed 2003/ 004 health budget is unprecedented, and it is little wonder the Prime Minister deliberately evaded my question to her on this in the House today."

"Deception for political points scoring may seem okay to Labour, but the truth is that patients are the losers," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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