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Action Taken Over National Women's Hospital


MEDIA RELEASE

Hon Wyatt Creech Minister of Health 22 July 1999

Action Taken Over National Women's Hospital 'Two Tier' Service

The Minister of Health has sought answers from Auckland Healthcare (A+) over aspects of their plans to offer a different level of maternity service at National Women's Cornwall Suite.

"I have written to the Chairperson of Auckland Healthcare expressing my disappointment with the approach taken by A+ in launching this initiative without communication with the Ministry of Health or the Crown Company Monitoring Unit.

"I have asked for an explanation from the Chair. I already had a planned meeting with Mr Waddell next week. At the meeting this matter will be discussed.

"I have pointed out to the Board Chair that public policy in this area requires the following:

* Like all public hospitals, National Women's essential role is to provide publicly funded quality maternity services.

* New Zealand has a free quality maternity service. No public hospital can charge for any maternity service for which the woman concerned has a clinical need.

* There must be no cross-subsidisation of non-maternity service extras (like videos, queen sized beds, fancy a la carte menus) from the public funding for maternity services.

* There needs to be clear understandings between the public hospital and the HFA as to what constitutes an appropriate level for core publicly funded services.

* There must be sufficient material for the HFA to monitor the service to be sure that the boundary is properly located and maintained.

"Full and proper compliance with all of these issues should have been established before this new development was started. I have told the Chair of A+ that unless he can assure me that these public policy issues are properly complied with the board should decide to put the proposal on hold.

"I have also asked the Health Funding Authority to make certain its maternity contracts reflect that hospitals can not charge for any maternity service for which a woman has a clinical need and that providers are not permitted to use public funds to cross-subsidise care for women paying for extra services.

"The Health Funding Authority is expected to monitor compliance with the contracts.

"I have also asked for further work to be done to investigate amendments to the Private Patient Protocols to cover the situation where a hospital wishes to charge users for services that are extra to those purchased under their HFA contracts.

"I have no real objection to giving women or families the choice if they want to pay for extra non-clinical services that are not part of the free quality clinical service they should expect. But I expect all women getting a publicly funded service to get the same quality clinical service paid for by the taxpayer," Mr Creech said.

ENDS


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