Government shrugs off health sector crisis

Despite new evidence showing that cuts to health spending are costing lives the Government continues to deny the sector is struggling, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“Health services in New Zealand are in crisis.

“In just two days we have heard about New Zealanders dying unnecessarily because access to cancer treatment was too slow, of Counties Manukau District Health Board warning it may be unable to cope with patient numbers because of a $100 million shortfall and thousands of patients being dumped of waiting lists for vital surgery.

“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is aware of the issue, signalling in a Cabinet paper he signed off after consultation with the Minister of Finance,  that a $320 million boost to DHBs – Treasury wants $250 million – for 2015/16 would ‘make it extremely challenging to manage pressures in Vote Health’.

“However today his offsider Peseta Sam Lotu-Iinga was in full denial, claiming no decisions had been made.

“In the Cabinet paper the Minister pointed out funding advice is usually given to DHBs in early December to ensure they can complete first drafts of their annual plans.

“Someone’s not telling the truth. DHBs need certainty to be able to plan and provide services, not fairy tales from a stand-in Minister,” Annette King said.