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Brash confirms he will cut health health services

19 July 2005

Brash confirms that he will cut health health services

National leader Don Brash has today confirmed he will not continue Labour’s forward spending path for health beyond 2005-06, and that inevitably means cuts to health programmes that have already been announced, says Health Minister Annette King.

“Under Labour from July 1, 2006, all New Zealanders aged over 45 in Primary Health Organisations will be entitled to cheaper visits to doctors and cheaper prescription costs. That presumably won’t happen under National, and that’s just the start if he won’t guarantee to ring fence health funding beyond 2005-06.

“What will happen to other projects for which funding has already been announced? Will he can the cataracts project, which aims at a 50 per cent increase in cataract operations? Will he cripple the orthopaedics project, designed to double the number of major hip and joint operations over four years? I am looking forward to him breaking that news to our older New Zealanders.”

Ms King says “Dr Brash shows his ignorance of the health system every time he opens his mouth. Health spending by this Government has increased by 50 percent – he's right on that score – but the funding has certainly not been wasted. Much of it has gone into sorting out the mess left by the previous National Government when they deprived doctors and nurses of decent salaries and mainstream New Zealanders of the public health services they were entitled to.

“He certainly doesn’t understand primary health care, and the importance of keeping people well in their communities. We are already seeing benefits from the $2.2 billion the Government has committed to this area over seven years. What will happen to this if Don Brash’s razor gang gets its chance?

“What will happen to the progress we are making in diabetes? What will happen to our preparations for a pandemic? What will happen to our efforts to reduce childhood obesity? What will happen to the progress we are making in hospitals, with 44,000 more medical/surgical case weight discharges each year and 27,500 more day procedures?”

Ms King says there are only two ways to cut health spending --- by cutting wages or services. “He certainly won’t find the waste he talks about. That’s a real insult to our hard-working and dedicated health professionals.”


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