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National behind the eight ball on rural health

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister for Rural Affairs
Associate Minister of Health

30 July 2008 Media Statement

National behind the eight ball on rural health

The National Party’s response to a rural health discussion document released a week ago shows just how behind they are on rural health issues, Rural Affairs and Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor said today.

The Minister was referring to a press statement put out by National Party MP Jo Goodhew today on a New Zealand Institute of Rural Health discussion document which was released publicly last Wednesday.

“The Labour-led government has an excellent track record on rural health compared with the National Party. In fact, the report acknowledges that considerable focus on recruiting and retaining the rural workforce has occurred since 2000.

“Every year we spend an additional $100 million through the rural adjuster for District Health Board funding, we have committed $150 million for safer drinking water and $173 million for sewerage schemes for small rural communities, we commit $8 million a year for mobile surgical services and spend $4 million for the rural bonus to rural GPs and nurses and $2 million for reasonable rosters for rural GPs and nurses.

“Although the document claims there has been a reduction in the rural primary health care workforce, in fact there has been an increase in rural GPs receiving the rural bonus from 415 in 2005/06 to 453 in 2007/08.

“The bottom line is, this government has been taking action on the issues outlined in the discussion document since we came into government in 1999,” said Mr O’Connor.

“I note the National Party’s policy of bonding schemes for rural primary care has been described by the Rural General Practice Network as ‘an old fashioned idea’, saying it won’t work.

“Instead of spending time writing press statements on reports that have been in the public arena for some time, have already been discussed in Parliament and have been reported on in the media, the National Party should work on coming up with policy that will actually benefit rural New Zealanders,” said Mr O’Connor.


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