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National confirms it will cut health services

26 August 2005

National confirms it will cut health services

National has confirmed that it will not sustain the Labour Government’s health funding path, and that will inevitably lead to cuts to health services, says Health Minister Annette King.

Ms King says that in an interview in the New Zealand Herald (published August 26) National health spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison says National will spend “less money” than Labour.

“This confirms what we already knew was likely to happen. You can’t offer tax bribes and at the same time retain essential public services. The first casualties on Dr Hutchison’s hit list will be universal funding for cheaper doctors’ visits and prescriptions and reduced funding for our hospitals, and we can also say goodbye to the half billion dollar pay increase nationally for nurses.

“Stage two in his programme will inevitably be charges for hospital services, like the 1990s, because if they are opposed to universal funding for primary health care, then they can hardly justify free hospital treatment for everyone.

“And stage three is likely to be a halt to new building projects. We all know what happened in the 1990s when small communities had to link hands round their hospitals to try to save them. That no longer happens. This Government is committed to improving services in rural and provincial areas, not stripping them. National clearly favours forced amalgamations of District Health Boards. Watch out Rotorua, Whangarei, Wanganui, Wairarapa and Timaru if National gets in.”

Ms King says the Government’s commitment to effective and responsive health services for all New Zealanders has been reflected in new budget spending of $969.7 million in 2005-06 and $4.09 billion over the next four years. "This level of funding provides the health sector with the certainty it needs, but certainty would go out the window if National got into office. Who knows if they would even retain beyond this year the extra funding, that this Government has made provision for, for inflationary and demographic pressures?”

Ms King says National tries to fudge its intentions by saying it will eliminate waste and bureaucracy, but it has no idea what bureaucrats it would get rid of. “Are they referring to people who book operations, to telephonists, to receptionists? The only thing for sure is that National is committed to tax cuts for the rich and it won’t give a toss which public health services have to go out the window to get there.”

ENDS

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