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Health Consultation A Sham

Health Consultation A Sham

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today accused Health Minister Annette King of misleading Parliament over answers given during Question Time when she stated that the public were having an input into Government proposals to abolish local health wards.

"Ms King says people are having an input through public health board meetings, but the reality is this has not been the case," Mrs Roy said.

"I challenge her to name any of the 21 health boards which have held public meetings, or had time to organise them, on the issue of constituency arrangements under STV.

"This is a total contrast to Labour's promise to engage the community in meaningful consultation. It is nothing more than a disgraceful sham. Cabinet has obviously made its decision.

"The Minister admitted as much by confirming that Cabinet had made a decision in principle and recently confirmed it. If that is the case, why is she pretending to go through a consultation charade?

"There is a clear consultative procedure for geographic changes to board areas spelled out in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. The Minister has chosen to do a rushed change by Order in Council, so that she can bypass consultation with the community - something she confirmed in response to my questions in Parliament today.

"The reality is that there is no need to rush. The Act provides for an Order in Council to be made up until 30 April 2004. Ms King could extend the submission period till February if she had any regard for community views, and still have two months to make any change. The reality is she thinks she knows what's best and doesn't want to give communities the option.

"I am calling on the Minister, and the Health Ministry, to publicise this issue properly, and alert communities to the real situation in relation to decisions around STV. They must extend the deadline for submissions until February 2004," Mrs Roy said.

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