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NZ shouldn’t fall for Nats' falls prevention cuts

28 October 2009 Media Statement

New Zealanders shouldn’t fall for Nationals falls prevention cuts

Elderly New Zealanders deserve much better than the scrapping of the falls programme being made by the National Government, Labour Health spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.

“The National Government has dumped a programme that was supported by frontline medical staff and which has been shown to save New Zealand taxpayers $2 for every $1 spent,” Ruth Dyson said.

“It is extremely disappointing that National has made such a stupid and short-sighted decision to cut a programme that was proven to be improving the health of elderly and saving taxpayers’ money.

“The health of New Zealanders should be a priority for the Government but today the Minister of ACC Nick Smith showed he simply doesn’t care about programmes that have proven to keep elderly healthy.

“What makes the situation even more unpalatable is the decision by ACC Minister Nick Smith to mislead New Zealanders about this programme by comparing to it ‘resthome olympics’.

“It is clear the National Government knows it has no real grounds for cutting what is a successful programme that has improved the health of elderly and which clinicians have spoken in support of.

“I have been contacted by frontline medical staff strongly opposed to this slashing of the falls prevention programme, but it seems the Minister believes he knows better than them.

“Sadly, despite knowing that the Minister of ACC’s decision will result in increased numbers of elderly admitted to hospital needing hip replacements or physiotherapy, the Minister of Health backed Nick Smith’s decision.

“The changes being proposed by ACC Minister Nick Smith will result in fewer Kiwis being able to access health care funded by ACC, which means the health sector will have to pick up the pieces.

“The cost of a hip fracture may mean a $20,000 operation and 6-8 weeks in hospital compared to the individual cost of attending the programme which is just a few hundred dollars.

“The cost cutting by the National Government doesn’t save taxpayers money and it certainly won’t improve the health of New Zealanders.” Ruth Dyson said.


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