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Unwelcome Christmas surprise for Canterbury health



Health Spokesperson

22 December 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT

Unwelcome Christmas surprise for Canterbury health

The announcement by Tony Ryall that the government is looking at a so-called public private partnership for the re-development of Christchurch Hospital is an unwelcome Christmas surprise, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street.

“Making progress in re-building Christchurch’s hospitals is an important priority. But to announce, on the second to last working day before Christmas, that the government wants to go down the path of privatising those hospitals is an unwelcome Christmas surprise

“Sadly, the government has made a habit in recent years of dumping significant news like this just before the annual end of year break,” Maryan Street said.

“National’s proposal would see private interests design, develop, build and manage the buildings, and by the looks of it also have a hand in running some services. Make no mistake - this is the beginning of the privatisation of health services.

“It is wrong because it will undermine the public health system, it does not make economic sense, and this model has failed internationally.

“Private investors will have one thing in mind in their involvement in this kind of development - profit. The core premise of our public health system is that services are provided to ensure the health and well-being of New Zealanders, not turn a profit for private interests.

“Also having a private owner with a strong profit motive for some aspects of the hospital runs the risk of creating conflict between different aspects of the hospital’s operation.

“Importantly, there is no economic logic to the proposal. The government can borrow money more cheaply to build a hospital that taxpayers will own at the end of the process, rather than paying the on-going costs to someone else who will then own the facilities.

“The history of public private partnerships internationally is very mixed. When it comes to schools and hospitals other countries have run into trouble with poor contracting, spiralling costs and a loss of control of facilities. This is an area to tread very carefully.

“Tony Ryall is clearly signalling that the privatisation agenda is underway in health, as it is in education and in core infrastructure like electricity companies.

“This is a short-sighted approach that will do nothing to improve health outcomes of New Zealanders,” Maryan Street said.

© Scoop Media

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