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National’s child health policy a weak imitation

Hon Annette King
Minister of Health

National’s child health policy a weak imitation

15 September 2005

National’s child health policy released today, just two days before an election, is a weak imitation of policy initiatives announced by Labour last month, says Health Minister Annette King.

“Their first plank is to maintain current primary health care subsidies for children and to improve them ‘over time’. Labour adjusts these subsidies upwards every year, not ‘over time’.

“Their second plank is to ensure all children are funded to receive eight Well Child checks by 2007/08. That is an exact copy of the policy we announced on 23 August. I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Ms King says one of National’s most hollow pledges is to target more than 95 per cent of children completing their immunisations. “This pledge is from the party that wouldn’t set up a National Immunisation Register in the 1990s because they thought it was a waste of money. The only reason we will get 95 per cent is because Labour has set up the register and we are now seeing the results.”

Ms King also says National’s pledge to spend an additional $3.5 million a year supporting the Special Dental Benefits Scheme and an additional $4.5 million on the Adolescent Oral Health Service Agreement “is put in perspective when placed alongside Labour’s far-reaching plan, announced on 31 August, to spend more than $100 million over five years in capital spending alone on a major revamp of oral health services for young New Zealanders.

“Their fifth plank is to spend $2 million a year expanding Health Promoting Schools. Labour announced an expansion of more than $6 million a year in March this year with the Cancer Control Action Plan. National doesn’t even mention cancer in its health policy. That shows how serious it is about improving health.

“And finally National says the $100 million extra it is allotting on a one-off basis to high priority surgery will include some money targeted toward children. What a cynical statement. All health funding under Labour is put in on a long-term sustainable basis. National cannot do that and afford to give tax cuts as well.

“How credible can a child health policy be that is released just two days out from an election? The policy is a feeble sham, but none the less cynical for that.”

ENDS

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