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Alexander: Aged care funding miles overdue

Media Statement
For immediate release
Friday, 8 July 2005

Alexander: Aged care funding miles overdue

The distribution today of $18 million to aged care providers that was announced in December last year was well overdue, United Future senior citizens spokesman Marc Alexander says.

"I am appalled that it has taken seven months for the emergency money to be distributed. This is an utterly unacceptable delay.

"How we treat the carers of our frail and elderly says a great deal about how we treat our frail and elderly. Many aged care providers are on the brink of collapsing and staff at rest homes are some of the worst paid in the nursing sector."

Upon learning of the extra funding, district health boards immediately added 12 issues for negotiation with aged care providers. This created huge delays and shows no good faith on the part of DHBs.

"Frankly, it was a quite unethical withholding of the funding to put aged care providers over a barrel.

"What did any of the health ministers do during the wait? They sat back and twiddled their thumbs - no intervening despite the acknowledged desperation of aged care providers."

"Let's be realistic about the $18 million. It won't solve the endemic underfunding of the aged care sector. It is a lifeline for rest homes across the country. To withhold that lifeline for this long is cruel."

The attitude of DHBs and the Health Ministers Annette King and Pete Hodgson was contemptible. Aged care providers urgently need the $18 million. They will be relieved, but hardly overjoyed to receive it, Mr Alexander said.

Ends.

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