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A Bureaucrat's Paradise, A Professional's Hell!

LEADER'S OFFICE

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PARLIAMENT HOUSE
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Media Release - Embargoed until delivery

8 July 1999 2.00 pm At Pukekohe Public Meeting

Public Health -A Bureaucrat's Paradise A Professional's Hell!

PUBLIC HEALTH - A BUREAUCRAT'S PARADISE
A PROFESSIONAL'S HELL!


New Zealand First has accused the government of paying the Health Funding Authority Chairman, Graham Scott, huge fees while public hospitals face a spending blowout.

The Health Funding Authority is the government agency which oversees more than $6 billion spending in public hospitals.

The NZ First Leader, Winston Peters, said today that public health had become a bureaucrat's paradise and a health professional's hell.

He said that one of the reasons for this was that money, which should be spent on the treatment of patients, was being siphoned off by health bureaucrats and consultants.

Mr Peters said that one of the worst offenders was the Health Funding Authority, which was headed by a former Treasury Secretary, Graham Scott.

The New Zealand First Leader released Parliamentary answers from the Health Minister in response to questions about the hourly, daily, and annual rate of pay for Mr Scott in his capacity as Chairman of the HFA.

"The only figure we could get shows that the government paid Mr Scott $111 thousand dollars for the year ending 30th June.

"The government would not tell us the hourly or daily rate and the reason for this is obvious. However, we understand that Mr Scott was paid between sixteen hundred and two thousand dollars a day."
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Mr Peters also produced figures to show that the total debt for public hospitals had soared to $736 million by the end of June.

"Five years ago the total level of debt for public hospitals was just over $500 million. This means that the public health system has been plunged $236 million further in the red - an increase in indebtedness of nearly fifty per cent.

"What has Mr Scott been doing to sort out this problem - apart from collecting his big fees?" he asked.

Mr Peters said that New Zealand First was also concerned about the high salary levels at the Health Funding Authority.

According to its annual report it paid 51 staff members salaries of more than one hundred thousand dollars.

At the same time, Mr Peters said, funds for urgently needed public health programmes such as nationwide Hepatitis B and Diabetes screening were not available.

"This situation at the HFA is scandalous. It has already been rapped over the knuckles by an independent audit for lavish spending and lax procedures.

"While people wait for treatment, the HFA spent $7 and a half million dollars on new yuppie offices, and one thousand dollars on each chair for soft bureaucratic bottoms.

"It has also just spent two million dollars on consultants - probably to work out their colour scheme and matching coffee cups.

"We intend to replace the Health Funding Authority with a more accountable system within the Ministry of Health."

Mr Peters said that the ethic of public service in the health system had been lost in recent years during a series of nonsensical health reforms.

"Too many of these health bureaucrats appear interested only in how much money they can get personally, and the size of the bills they can run up with the consultants who lurk in the shadows of the health system.

"At the same time, medical staff are being overworked and underpaid and semi-voluntary services are going to the wall through lack of funding," said Mr Peters.

ENDS

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