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Health Review Report Comes In For Stiff Criticism

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 17 NZPA - A review report recommending radical changes to the public health system is being heavily criticised by the Labour Party and key sector groups.

The report, commissioned by the Government in January, has put up more than 170 recommendations including the establishment of a National Health Board to control the funding for district health boards.

It warns that the cost of healthcare will double in the next 20 years, rising at a much faster rate than economic growth, and suggests ways to reduce bureaucracy, improve frontline services and harness the power of bulk purchasing.

Health Minister Tony Ryall has reacted cautiously, saying the Government is not obliged to accept any of its recommendations and that the report will be carefully considered over the next couple of months.

Labour's health spokeswoman, Ruth Dyson, said the report pointed to a rationing of frontline services.

"National has been quietly cutting frontline health services since coming to office eight months ago and there is much more to come," she said.

"The National Government is attempting to soften the New Zealand public up for rationed hospital level healthcare available only to those able to travel to main centres."

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists described the report was "a mix of fuddle, muddle and disguised potential privatisation".

Association executive director Ian Powell said the report was sugar coated to hide "the iron fist of radical restructuring" and if the Government went ahead with its recommendations it would break election promises.

The Nurses Organisation said the report raised important issues but the reality was that if health services were run without good managers and administrators, nurses and doctors would be lost in the chaos.

The College of General Practitioners favoured the report, saying its recommendations would ensure the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the sector.

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