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Clark: Labour's vision for health

Labour
2000 web siteLabour recognises that health is a huge public concern and has developed a comprehensive and balanced policy which will restore the public’s faith in the public health system, Labour Leader Helen Clark said.

“National has allowed our public health system to be run down, privatised and commercialised in the name of so called ‘health reforms’. The result of these reforms has been the overwhelming alienation of the public, leading to cynicism about the ability of our health services to deliver at time of need.

“The current health system is guided by no clear vision and lacks leadership, accountability and democratic community input. It focuses on treatment services, which in turn are inadequately delivered, and has done little to improve the health of the community.

“Labour is committed to restoring public faith in a quality and comprehensive public health system. Our core commitment on our commitment card is to focus on patients not profit and to cut waiting times for surgery.

“To restore the public’s confidence in the health system, we must return to a health system which allows the people to have a say. Democratically electing representatives on boards will restore the system’s moral authority. Certainty in funding and long-term planning will allow a systematic rebuilding of the public health system. Co-operation, rather than competition, will mean that the public health system works for patients not for profits.

“The obscenity of the present system was graphically illustrated last week when Northland Health crowed about its financial profit for the third year in a row, while just down the road Whangarei’s worst TB outbreak in many years was reported.

“Labour will once again expect the health system to operate from five guiding principles:
 respect for individual dignity in health care provision
 equity of access to health care
 community involvement in decision making
 priority for health promotion and disease prevention
 a commitment to effective resource use in the health sector.

“The immediate focus is on re-establishing a New Zealand-wide public health system that New Zealanders have pride in.

“Labour recognises that many health problems in the community require concerted action across a range of portfolios.

“Eliminating TB and other diseases of poverty requires us to attack the causes of poverty. Under Labour, income-related state house rentals and a proactive approach to economic management will have a very positive effect on health status.

“National proposes to throw more money at a failed system. No amount of free visits to the doctor can make children healthy if they live in overcrowded, damp accommodation and are poorly fed and clothed. Labour will tackle the causes of the problem.

“Labour is also looking to savings from the bureaucracy. There are too many bureaucratic layers in the health system. Rebuilding a simple relationship between one central government health agency and the district health boards by removing the Health Funding Authority will free up tens of millions of dollars for high priority health spending.

“National’s calls for stability around the sick health system it has created are a joke. No amount of money poured into a bad system will make it work.

“It is time for a change. It is time for Labour in health, as it is in education, superannuation and the economy,” Helen Clark said.


Contact: David Lewis (press sec) 04-471 9394, 025-409 492

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