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Election Bribe Two: Small Health Injection

Press Release
Election Bribe Two: Small Health Injection

Heather Roy MP
Monday, 19 May, 2008

Health Minister David Cunliffe's announcement yesterday of a $35 million injection annually into elective surgery and services in an election year is the latest example of Labour's modus operandi of picking winners, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"It is clinicians who should be making the decisions about where care is most needed - not the Minister, his Government or his Ministry," Mrs Roy said.

"Ignored is the fact that workforce shortages - lack of doctors, nurses and other professionals - are the public health system's biggest problem. Who does Mr Cunliffe think will perform these extra services? Not the raft of hospital managers and health bureaucrats, that's for sure.

"Also ignored is the fact that productivity of State-run healthcare has failed to keep pace with the extra $5 billion spent on it since Labour came to power in 1999. This doubling in funding has not seen any extra services when population growth is taken into account.

"Electives have been targeted this election year because it's where Labour is vulnerable. The number of operations and first specialist assessments can be counted - if they're down, the Government is blamed; if they're up Labour claims success.

"But the number of people ejected from waiting lists because they haven't been seen within Labour's six-month timeframe is conveniently unable to be calculated due to the way the Ministry collects records. This would be the real measure of success or failure.

"The lucky few who will benefit from Labour's largesse may vote for them, but what about Health's poor cousins - mental health, disability services and aged care? Mr Cunliffe has chosen the 'sexy' area of healthcare at the expense of those struggling to treat patients effectively.

"On the day the health bribe was rolled out, a report was released from the Auckland Stroke Study, showing that across the country less than a third of DHBs have their rehab services lined up to the minimum guidelines so stroke survivors are not getting the post-hospital quality of services that they deserve.

"Throwing more money into electives is a cynical, short-term election year solution from a Government in its death throes. Productivity issues need to be confronted head-on. Workforce issues must be addressed.
"Labour has failed sick Kiwis by burying its head in the sand, and neglected economic growth and the efficiencies that would be gained by using private hospitals. ACT knows that a more prosperous New Zealand means that more people could be treated," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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