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Huge health funding blowout of $215m

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

7 August 2001

Huge health funding blowout of $215m

New Zealand's 21 district health boards have blown out to a combined deficit of $214.96 million, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"This is despite Health Minister Annette King telling the Health Select Committee just seven weeks ago she expected the health deficit to be less than $80 million.

"This huge blowout which means boards around the country are having to cut services or run up deficits is because the Government is underfunding health. "Annette King seems blissfully ignorant that both Auckland and Counties Manukau are proposing $30 million in health cuts and that Auckland doctors predict the Government won't be able to stomach the fall-out from their screwing down health services.

"The Canterbury Area Health Board's deficit has doubled to $20 million, Otago, Lakeland, Southland and Bay of Plenty are cutting services while others can't reduce waiting lists or meet targets.

"The problem is that the Minister secured only a paltry $900,000 extra funding for Vote Health, despite the Government's promises that New Zealanders would get better health services for paying increased taxes, and the Minister's promise that health would get 'tens of millions of dollars extra funding' this year.

"The deficit for the country has blown out to $215 million and unless the Government wakes up and listens to boards and doctors pleading for assistance because of inevitable rising costs in health, it will continue to grow.

"It's either health cuts or growing deficits for boards while Annette King reprimands them for not managing their budgets properly. In reality they are scraping the bottom of the barrel and it's because of her mismanagement of health," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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