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Public Must Be Consulted On Health Changes

Media Release

2 July 2008

Public Must Be Consulted On Health Changes

Any action to make changes to the health system must only be carried out after public consultation and this should be done as soon as possible, says New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“The report from Technical Advisory Services that the current health system is unsustainable should come as little surprise to anyone. They are specifically referring to the lower North Island but the problem is countrywide.

Mrs Stewart said that after taking patient numbers, workforce shortages and available funding into account, some further regionalisation of health services appeared to be unavoidable.

“However it must not be imposed from the top down with unnecessary haste by health bureaucrats and politicians worrying about their jobs. Great care will need to be taken to ensure that smaller centres are not penalised.

“It has been obvious for some time that the public health system is under intense pressure and urgent attention is needed to match the system's capacity with the public's needs and expectations.

“It is time for a review of the public health system to define exactly what people reasonably expect, what guaranteed minimum services the system can deliver and where it will deliver them.

“It also needs to be emphasised that health services cost money. For example, big tax cuts and improved health services are not compatible.

“The health system is a perfect example of the old saying that you get what you pay for. It’s time for some hard decisions about what we are entitled to expect from the health system and what we are prepared to pay for,” said Mrs Stewart.


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