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New Minister, new policy?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

New Minister, new policy?

UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne is wondering if the Labour-led government has changed its ideological opposition to using the private sector to help out the public health sector.

Health Minister David Cunliffe was asked in Parliament by Mr Dunne if he was willing to consider the use of private hospital capacity to shorten waiting lists for elective surgery.

The Minister answered that spare private capacity would be used to ease the pressure on the public system.

One feature of the confidence and supply agreement between the Labour-led Government and UnitedFuture was that "appropriate private hospital capacity will be used to reduce waiting lists where this is feasible."

Mr Dunne said "Legally DHBs can contract private hospitals to carry out elective surgery and in the past many have. The practice was stopped by previous Ministers of Health and their ideological adherence to the public system alone.

"The Minister's answer today breathes fresh air into the stagnant, stunted relationships between public and private hospitals.

"UnitedFuture recognises the need for government to work with the private sector, not only in the health field but also in other areas such as infrastructure development and corrections.

"If the Minister of Health is genuine in his commitment to improve public hospitals - that he will do "whatever it takes" as he said today, then he must increase the level of elective surgery undertaken by private hospitals on behalf of public hospitals," said Mr Dunne.


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