Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.
Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’ presented ideas to a group of wealthy investors in an attempt to gain funding while offering a stake of the company in return.
“Leaked documents show the panel considering pitches from Westpac, ANZ and Australian company APM, included Dr Murray Horn, who has previously held a number of senior executive roles with ANZ and lead the bank’s New Zealand operations.
“Panel members used ‘score cards’ to rate each proposal and the entire ‘pitch presentation’ was videoed.
“It is unbelievable that the Government is treating such a serious issue in this way. It is also outrageous that the banks, who only this week announced profits of close to $1.7 billion, are now looking to profit from some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable – mental health clients, at risk youth – the very people those same banks wouldn’t want opening accounts.
“The paper notes risks around the social bond pilots include poor outcomes unless they are focussed on non-essential health services and that there could be ‘cherry-picking’ of the least difficult clients to avoid ‘hard to reach users’.
“It also reveals the $28 million for the four pilots announced by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was based on the cost of two pilots. New Zealand’s 20 DHBs received the same amount more in Budget 2015 to deliver mental health services across the entire country.
“Social bonds programmes have not worked overseas. In the UK privatisation of mental health services has coincided with cuts to public health spending and in the US led to millions of dollars being wasted on services that were unnecessary or not even implemented.
“The idea that private investors are looking to make a profit on an experiment that involves people with mental illness will appal New Zealanders,” Annette King says.