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DHBs & resthomes struggle under Holidays Act

DHBs & resthomes struggle under Holidays Act

Thursday 30 Dec 2004

Heather Roy - Press Releases -Health

With public holidays again looming, District Health Boards and resthomes around New Zealand face yet more wage and salary costs not budgeted for by the Government when it allocated health money for the 2003/04 and 2004/05 financial years, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy said today.

The Christmas and New Year breaks mean that hospitals and resthomes must pay their staff time and a half and give them a day in lieu for working on public holidays. This is now law under Labour's Holidays Act 2003, which came into effect on 1 April 2004.

"Hospitals and resthomes are 24/7 operations with no choice as to when they open or close on public holidays. They have had this law forced upon them without any compensation, and information I have received through parliamentary written questions shows that they will not be reimbursed anytime soon - if ever," Mrs Roy said.

"It is my understanding that the extra combined cost to the DHBs is around $20 million for the 2004/05 year. When asked if any reimbursement was likely, Health Minister Annette King referred me to Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen.

"Dr Cullen said that Treasury is working with the Health Ministry to assess additional costs and this process is intended to be completed early in 2005 when a recommendation will be made. For this current batch of public holidays the increased costs will be borne by DHBs and resthomes.

"Recently the Salvation Army announced that it was to sell its 12 residential homes for the elderly. Increased costs due to the Holidays Act were a contributing factor and other residential homes around the country are citing similar difficulties.

"Hospital waiting lists will continue to grow, and patients services will be compromised, so long as DHBs struggle to balance their books as additional costs, not budgeted for by the Government, remain," Mrs Roy said.


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