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New Health System Flawed: Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers' submission to the Health Select Committee today spelt out the rural organisation's deep concerns with the Government's health reform legislation.

Health spokesperson John Aspinall told the committee that Federated Farmers supported some of the broad objectives of the legislation but the reforms contained no guarantees that these principles will be delivered, nor would it guarantee rural people would be represented on the new District Health Boards.

Federated Farmers insisted that the rural and urban New Zealanders should have equal health outcomes, and that rural people deserve equal health status as urban residents. The federation was especially concerned that the Rural Community Trusts, which have developed under the present system, continued to be recognised and funded by the District Health Boards.

"The reforms will create at least another 88 district and national committees, and probably many more, all at great cost to actual service delivery. DHB's are elected by communities but accountable to the Minister, so leading to muddled accountability," said Mr Aspinall.

Another drawback is the DHBs' confused role as both funder and provider of health services.

"More health restructuring must inevitably increase the public's confusion about how their health system works."

The federation did support the reform's intent of improving Maori health status, but argued that there is not an equal focus on other groups with poor heath status, such as rural communities. Furthermore, including references to the Treaty of Waitangi could lead to legal action against the health system.

The federation is concerned at the absence of details about how the DHBs would be elected under an Single Transferable Vote system, and called for a proper discussion on the benefits of STV before this method is used.

"There is no outline on how the STV system will work, and the legislation is very unclear. There has been no provision made for educating voters on the eventual STV system," Mr Aspinall said. The federation wants a system that guarantees rural representation.


For further information: John Aspinall 025-838-087 or 03-443-7155 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269 (wk)

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