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News Worthy: The hospital saga

News Worthy
11 April 2008 - No. 243

The hospital saga

It is a curious quirk that despite billions of dollars in extra health spending there is no evidence of any gains in the efficiency or effectiveness of the public health system.

In a speech to the Christchurch School of Medicine in 1998 Helen Clark said:

"The backlog of people waiting for first specialist assessments also needs to be tackled."

To take one example there were 7,646 fewer first specialist appointments at the Auckland District Health Boards in 2007 than in 2001. And there were 4,000 fewer in 2007 than 2006.

So despite all the extra money, fewer people are getting to see a specialist. We also know that across the country on a population basis, fewer people are getting operations.

A bad statistic is that there is now one bureaucrat for every hospital bed.

China trade - opportunity celebrated

The signing this week of the free trade agreement with China brings opportunities which should be utilised.

The agreement has the potential to be the CER of the 21st century.

It will be important for New Zealand businesses to start engaging in potential markets in China to take advantage of the significant opportunities that are available now and that will become available soon as tariffs reduce further in the near future.

It also opens up an interesting opportunity to complete an economic relationship agreement with Hong Kong. Hong Kong is outside the China FTA because of its status as a “special administrative region”.

Discussions with Hong Kong were suspended in 2002 principally around rules of origin questions. With the China FTA signed that hurdle has been removed. Recently Hong Kong scrapped duty on wine and for our wine makers there are huge opportunities to access China through the Hong Kong portal.

In our Parliament we have the curiosity of a Foreign Minister refusing to support the China trade agreement despite the confidence and supply agreement signed by his Party with the Labour-led Government providing:

“New Zealand First agrees to fully represent the Government position… in respect of any areas of the portfolio responsibility of the Leader of New Zealand First”.

I guess he argues that he is not the Trade Minister which is a long bow.

Putting Victims First

Crime does great damage to our communities, but it has an even bigger impact on victims who can carry the scars for the rest of their lives.

Yet, too often, victims don’t get justice. Too often, they are forced to re-live a traumatic event because the system doesn’t meet their needs or lets them down. Too often, victims seem to get a worse deal than offenders.

National has announced policies to improve victims’ rights which are:

* Establishing a Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS). This will be funded by a levy on all offenders at sentencing. It will help victims with one-off expenses not covered by ACC or other state help. There is a similar scheme in the United Kingdom.

* Establishing a Victims Services Centre. The centre will work within the Ministry of Justice to co-ordinate agencies that deal with victims, help Victim Support, and provide an initial point of contact for victims.

* Upgrading the Victim Notification Register. This will allow victims to be on an “active” register, which will notify them of developments relating to their case, or on a “silent” register, for those who don’t want further involvement, but which will ensure offenders are not paroled to live nearby.

* Reviewing the Victims Rights Act 2002. National will ensure that victims’ rights are recognised across the justice system. The review will result in amendments to the Victims Rights Act to enhance victims’ rights and access to support services, such as strengthening the ability to make a victim impact statement without censorship.

Political Quote of the Week

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson - third President of the United States

Dr Richard Worth

National Party MP


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