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Something borrowed, something blue but nothing new

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

11th September 2008 Media Statement

Something borrowed, something blue but nothing new.

The Minister of Health, David Cunliffe said National's health policy launched today showed National hadn't had an original health policy thought in a decade.

"The vast majority of the paper mimics policy this Government has either already implemented, has underway or is committed to doing" David Cunliffe said.

"Where their policy differs – such as in giving tax write-offs to private health insurers or ring fenced funding for expensive drugs like Herceptin that undermines the Pharmac process – National appears to be dancing to the tune of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries."

"That is Blue, but nothing new – Labour has always put the health of ordinary New Zealanders first – National can never quite let go of the purse strings of private provider interests.” David Cunliffe said.

“However around 90 per cent of the National's health policy simply reflects existing Government policy, cementing National’s reputations as leak prone and Labour lite . Key examples include:

• Adopting the primary health care strategy for preventive health – which we launched in 2001 and are updating tomorrow.

• Promising 20 new hospital theatres when we are already building 22 .Seven new hospitals have been built since 2000. Eight major refurbishments, ten specialist facilities, three redevelopment projects and a further four major capital projects for hospital redevelopments have been approved and are underway.

• Employing 750 new health workers when we have employed 3,000 health professional workers in the first five years of this government alone.

• Capping MOH staff numbers, when I have already announced the cap; or limiting DHB support staff growth, when it is less than clinical staff growth anyway.

• Encouraging regional DHB cooperation– which is already underway in many regions through clinical service networks

• Maintaining Labour's health budget and GP fees reviews – except that the public no longer trusts National to keep its often-changing word on this.

• Promising child and youth oral health – which we have already announced in this year's Budget.

“But the real concern remains the secret agenda peeping through their health policy,” said Mr Cunliffe .

"National can not be trusted on any promise to keep the primary health care strategy – it will be gone by lunchtime, should they ever be elected.”

“National favours a two tier health system where if you have health insurance you are okay and if you don’t then you are left behind. Tax rebates for private health insurance, creating a system of health haves and health have-nots and will undermine the capacity of the public system to deliver.”


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