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Brash supports charging patients for surgery

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

28 March 2006 Media Statement

Brash supports charging patients for surgery

The time has come for the National Party to reveal their real policy on elective surgery, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

"Don Brash has publicly said that the only way to reduce pressure on elective services is to start charging patients for the surgery they need," Pete Hodgson said. "We've also had Tony Ryall banging on about elective surgery for weeks.

"It's time for National to join the dots and front up with their real elective surgery policy. They want to undermine confidence in New Zealand's public health system to soften the ground for the Americanisation of health care in our country.

"This government will fight any attempt to attack the values of fairness and equity that have been at the centre of New Zealand's public health system for generations."

In a major speech in 1999, Don Brash said in regards to health care that:

"…if you offer something for free, the demand will be enormous, and that if you don't use price to limit that demand, you will soon be unable to meet the demand."

He went on to add:

"No matter how much is spent on health, there will always be queues unless price or some arbitrary political decision is part of the rationing process."

Pete Hodgson said that while Don Brash has every right to these views, it was no longer acceptable to conceal National's true health policy intentions.

"Tony Ryall has stubbornly ignored the fact that under this government more people are getting the surgery they need. He seems increasingly desperate to play a smoke-and-mirrors game to confuse the public.

"What's more is that he has never once fronted with a proposal to increase the number of elective procedures. National's strategy is to undermine confidence in our surgical workforce and public hospital system to pave the way for user pays and bigger profits for private hospitals."

ENDS

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