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Labour inaction on eating disorders exposed

Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

31 March 2008

Labour inaction on eating disorders exposed

Labour needs to explain its woeful record on the treatment of eating disorders according to National's Associate Health spokeswoman Jackie Blue.

"Nearly two years ago the Ministry of Health released a report critical of the serious shortfalls in eating disorder services. It promised a national plan would be available by June last year. Where is it?

"Labour's watched this problem get worse throughout its entire term in office, but it still has no coherent plan for dealing with those who suffer from eating disorders, despite a promise to deliver one nine months ago.

"Even if Labour now produces a plan in election year, nothing can disguise the nine years of inaction and the likelihood that nothing concrete will be done before the election."

Dr Blue notes that since December 2006 the Auckland DHBs have sent six patients suffering from anorexia nervosa to Australia for treatment at an average cost of $70,000 per patient.

"This is far from satisfactory. It is hugely disruptive for families and recovery, as the patient can be away for up to four and five months at a time.

"There are also fears that out-patient services are unable to provide the intensive follow-up needed once the patients return to New Zealand."

Dr Blue says anorexia nervosa affects mainly young women. It is a life-threatening condition, although early and effective intervention can dramatically improve outcomes.

"Over the past eight years Labour has built up a small army of bureaucrats at the Ministry of Health, yet they have been unable to deliver a national plan for eating disorders within their own deadlines.

"The Minister of Health should explain what the hold up is, and be asking one of his many officials why this overdue action plan is very much - missing in action."


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