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Health cuts and more bureaucracy

16 August 2009 Media Statement

Health cuts and more bureaucracy – broken election promises from Ryall

Health Minister Tony Ryall was today big on rhetoric but refused to give New Zealanders the assurance they want that there would be no further cuts to health services Labour’s Health spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.

“Gutting the Ministry of Health and the creation of a National Health Board will do nothing but create a new level of bureaucracy.

“Tony Ryall loves to make big claims about bureaucracy but in reality, less than 2 percent of the health budget is put in to the Ministry of Health and the increase in administration he refers to at DHBs includes, ward clerks and other staff put in place to free doctors and nurses up to deliver health services to patients.

“Does the Minster really want doctors and nurses answering phones and making appointments when they should be seeing patients?

“Plans to be released by the Health Minister today will not only make recommendations about establishing a new national health body, they dangerously point to a rationing of frontline health services.

“Mothers, the elderly and others not in paid employment should be extremely worried by any suggestion of rationing health care to those in paid work.

“Since becoming Minister of Health Tony Ryall has allowed Whanganui, South Canterbury, Southland, Otago, Taranaki, and MidCentral DHBs to signal cuts to patient services.

“These cuts in regional areas are in addition to those Tony Ryall has himself made, to mental health funding, the nationally funded ‘Let’s Get Checked diabetes programme’, tobacco control programmes and cardiovascular programmes.

“National has been quietly cutting frontline health services since coming to office eight months ago and there is much more to come.

“The National Government is attempting to soften the New Zealand public up for rationed hospital level healthcare available only to those able to travel to main centres.

“None of the recommendations such as rationing health care and creating a new National Health Board are about improving health care for New Zealanders,” Dyson said.

Patient services cut in eight months
• Mid-Central DHB to cut $10 million from budget.
• General Manager for Corporate Services Stuart Wilson confirmed the DHB would carry out a line by line review and reduce the standard of services provided to patients to produce cuts of that nature. The DHB is also predicting job losses
• Southland and Otago DHBs have confirmed they are cutting home support services to reduce costs. The Boards were looking to make savings of up to $10 million by reducing home support services for elderly.
• Whanganui DHB has said it will be closing hospital wards on weekends to save money on nursing overtime.
• Taranaki DHB has publicly signalled that its hospital is preparing for cut backs.
• South Canterbury DHB has said it will be reducing the amount of patients seen in its Emergency Department by up to 5000 people a year.
• SCDHB has also signalled that it is looking to reduce the number of patients using radiology services.
• The DHB also confirmed on Friday that it would be axing up to 200 elective operations per year because of a cut in Government funding.
• Tony Ryall this year signed off on a 6.5 percent increase in GP fees the largest increase since fees came in.
• Ian Powell head of the senior doctors union on the weekend expressed concern that the Minister was increasing elective surgery statistics by allowing DHBs to carry out easier cheaper, quicker procedures while leaving the more complex cases.
• The Fruit in Schools programme which currently provides 100,000 children with fresh fruit each day is under threat.
• Post budget Treasury documents show that primary health and health promotion services that target specific health conditions have had funding cuts of $37 million this year.
• National have taken $2.3 million out of cancer control,
• Slashed the diabetes ‘let’s get checked’ budget by $4.8 million
• Cut $3 million from the cardiovascular disease budget.
• Mental Health services have also had their funding cut.


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