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Clark betrays mothers and babies

7 April 2006

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

Clark betrays mothers and babies

The Prime Minister today stands a total hypocrite following her Government's decision to cut funding for PlunketLine, says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

"Helen Clark is betraying the mothers and babies of New Zealand, who she promised would see a funded Plunketline," says Mr Ryall.

Helen Clark told a 1995 Plunket Society conference: 'We see real value in Plunketline, and we want it to receive Government funding'.

"This Government pledged to fund this service," says Mr Ryall. "To wilfully stop funding PlunketLine now is the complete opposite of what they promised."

In another speech to the Plunket Society, in 1995, Helen Clark said: 'The service (Plunketline) is established and the demand for it is overwhelming. It deserves support.'

"PlunketLine provides a service for families supported by skilled Plunket nurses," says Mr Ryall. "The Government's alternative service will not do that. The people who will run the Government's service are the same people who are running the poor-performing HealthLine.

"What total hypocrisy from this tired Government.

"Their ideology is bizarre. How cynical can they be to release this on Friday afternoon when Parliament will not be sitting again for a number of weeks," says Mr Ryall.

Helen Clark on PlunketLine:

"We will move to fund the Plunket line for 24 hour coverage," - Helen Clark (November 1999) Speech to Wellington Campaign Rally.

"The reasons why the Government and its many health bureaucracies won't fund Plunketline go beyond mere pennypinching," - Helen Clark (March 1995) Speech to Royal NZ Plunket Society's 52nd National Conference.

Labour's 'detailed economic and social policy' includes... "Funding the Plunket hotline for 24 hours a day to give all parents access to free healthcare advice for their small children," - Helen Clark (May 1995) Speech to Invercargill Rotary Club.

"I want to make a special plea for government funding of Plunket Line. It was Labour's policy to fund it because we have been very impressed by the service. With more funding to operate more lines with more nurses, it could have been even better... But would it not be tragic if the result of cutting back on Plunket Line's hours or its closure altogether was to be an increase in the number of infants' and children's deaths or near misses with illnesses like meningitis? Plunket Line does deal with real emergencies and with situations which if not dealt with speedily could become emergencies," ­- Helen Clark (April 1997) Speech to Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.

ENDS

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