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Shipley "So, So Sincere"

Statement to Timaru Herald

Health Minister Annette King says she is flabbergasted by National Party leader Jenny Shipley's sudden interest in "highly-skilled overseas doctors".

Mrs Shipley told the Timaru Herald yesterday that National would improve the access of rural people to health by making it easier for the number of highly skilled overseas doctors who were currently unable to practice in New Zealand.

"If her Government's neglect of these doctors in the past had not been so tragic, her comments would make me laugh," Mrs King said.

"In June last year this Government announced an $11.8 million package spread over three years to retrain overseas doctors. These doctors were granted residency here from 1991 to 1995 under the previous National Government, and forced to drive taxis for a living.

"The first 100 of these doctors are now six months into training, and have sat their first exams.

"Mrs Shipley's old government didn't do a thing for them, but then it had a history also of taking rural people and voters for granted. Now she is trying to be so, so sincere. The overseas doctors who had to wait so long for help can feel genuine anger, as can the rural areas she neglected."

Mrs King said the development of mobile surgical services under the Labour-Alliance Government, on schedule for later this year, would also boost rural health access.

Ends


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