New Zealand Labour Party

New Zealand really can do better on health

Labour’s commitment to affordable access to high quality healthcare will provide a better service for New Zealanders than the current Health Minister, who will not apologise for statements that he made that wrongly criticised hard-working staff in the Southern DHB’s Dunedin Hospital site, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.

"Today's exchange in Parliament showed how out of touch the Minister really is, revealing he was unfamiliar with statements in a letter about orthopaedic shortfalls sent directly to him by concerned clinicians.

“The contents of the letter were discussed on Radio NZ's Checkpoint programme yesterday and covered in today's Otago Daily Times, amid concern about a growing crisis of care at Southern DHB.

"The Minister was also unaware of the fact that surgeons had been purchasing non-approved devices at hardware stores for medical care in order to save money in the cash-strapped DHB.

"The Minister also failed to rule out financial penalties for Southern DHB, despite having admitted it has a shortfall of Intensive Care Unit beds, which limits its ability to meet elective targets.

"The Minister's disregard for the Health sector is infamous, and today's admission that he has not seen even a draft of an anticipated report on Southern's urology services, which was circulated, reinforces his disinterest in the midst of a crisis – the development of which his government has overseen.

"This Government appointed a Crown Monitor to the DHB in 2010 but has been content to observe managed decline since. Seven years on Southerners deserve so much better.

“Only Labour will deliver the affordable access to quality healthcare Otago and Southland expects,” says David Clark.