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Nats can’t be trusted on health - King

Nats can’t be trusted on health any more than on foreign policy

The National Party’s health policy can no more be trusted than the party’s foreign policy, says Health Minister Annette King.

“A year ago National leader Don Brash promised to scrap Primary Health Organisations if National became the Government. Gone by lunchtime, I presume. Now he says he will keep them, but look at the small print. He also says change must be implemented over time.

“Just two weeks ago National health spokesperson Paul Hutchison said National would restructure PHOs, which could mean that some of the smaller ones, catering for fewer than 30,000 people, could be disbanded. That’s about half of the PHOs. Now Don Brash is distancing himself from what Dr Hutchison said just a few days ago. Is that because a Northland doctor said he fears patients could be paying $60 for a doctor’s visit under National.”

Annette King says Dr Brash refuses to give any commitment to maintaining the future funding path for health that was announced in the budget of $4.09 billion in new money over the next four years.

“That means he puts at risk funding for the long-awaited nurses pay settlement, the final rollout over the next two years of affordable primary health care and cheaper prescriptions for all New Zealanders, additional funding for the mental health sector, doubling the number of joint replacements and carrying out 7500 additional cataract operations, funding for cancer control, and capital development for new hospitals, just to name a few things

“The crowning comment is that he accuses the Government of being in an ideological straitjacket. He’s the one wearing the straitjacket, desperately seeking cuts in health spending so that he can pay for his tax bribes.

“National’s health policy reminds me of that old song, Is that all there is? The total sum of their policies seems to be to promise a number of reviews. No wonder health is so low on their list of election priorities, because they know they cannot hope to match this Government’s overall commitment to the health of New Zealanders.”

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