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Rest homes continue to close under Labour

Paul Hutchison National Party Health Spokesman

9 June 2005

Rest homes continue to close under Labour

Associate Minister of Health Pete Hodgson yesterday failed to give Parliament's health select committee an assurance that the residential care sector will receive realistic funding in the near future, to prevent further rest home closures, says National's Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

"Labour ignored a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1999 recommending a sustainable funding programme for the residential care sector," says Dr Hutchison.

"Chronic underfunding of the sector has seen more than 37 closures in the past three years, as well as many in the not-for-profit sector exiting from residential care.

"Yesterday, Mr Hodgson denied that deinstitutionalisation of the elderly from rest homes was occurring, and said it was scaremongering to suggest that the frail elderly will face preventable tragedies in their own homes.

"I don't agree with Mr Hodgson at all. While National strongly supports the elderly staying in their own homes while they are safe and secure, it must be acknowledged that for about 7% of people over 65 residential care is appropriate and necessary. The reality is with an ageing population the number of beds needed will only increase.

"Budget 2005 Cabinet papers reveal Labour is planning a report to look at 'options for funding the sector on a sustainable basis into the future', by November 2005.

"After five years in government it is pathetic that Labour has not arrived at a package for residential care. Huge amounts of money are wasted on bureaucracy while the residential care sector is continually denied realistic funding. In the meantime, rest homes will continue to close their doors," says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS

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