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Dunne backs greater public-private healthcare

Media statement
For immediate release
Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Dunne backs greater public-private healthcare

United Future leader Peter Dunne is wholeheartedly endorsing the call by Southern Cross Healthcare for greater partnership between the public and private health systems to reduce waiting lists for elective surgery.

Southern Cross says the private healthcare sector already performs more than twice as many elective surgeries as the public system and has the capacity to do more.

Recent figures show that 96,000 elective surgeries were performed in the public health sector in 2005. This compares to 108,930 surgical procedures funded by Southern Cross health insurance.

Mr Dunne said "This is precisely why United Future made it one of the conditions of our support for Labour in the confidence and supply agreement that private hospitals should be used to reduce waiting list where feasible.

"The current national waiting list crisis and the desperate shortage of anaesthetists at Wellington Hospital underscore our concerns.

"Already about 60% of elective surgery is done in the private sector, and this number can only increase as the combination of the pressure on public hospital waiting lists for elective surgery, and the mounting demand for acute and/or high cost specialist care mounts on the over-stretched public system.

"Public health spending is already at record levels so throwing more taxpayers' money at the problem is not going to work - the only effective long term answer has to be better integration of public and private services," said Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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