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Job Losses Likely In Health System Shake Up - Key, Ryall

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tony Ryall
Tony Ryall

Wellington, Aug 17 NZPA - Job losses are likely as a result of changes from the review of the health system, Prime Minister John Key and Health Minister Tony Ryall say.

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 (DHBs).

The aim of any changes would be "to get greater efficiency in the back office, less dollars spent there, more spent on the front line", Mr Key said today.

"I can't put a number on it (job losses) 'cause I don't know.

"There's always consolidation, there's attrition, there's things that can happen, so redundancies are not necessarily the answer."

Any changes were likely to be two or three months away after a consultation process, he said.

Mr Ryall said there would "potentially" be redundancies.

"We're not interested in accepting any recommendations that will lead to more bureaucracy or take away services for improvements to patients.

"The report says they do not think there will be a need for any more staff and potentially fewer," he said.

Mr Key, speaking at his post-cabinet press conference, said the Government was not embarking on a cost-cutting exercise.

"Certainly not...we are spending more on health than any other government has," he said.

"It sucked up more than half the extra spending in the last budget."

But Mr Key said future increases in the health budget -- and in the budgets of other big departments -- would not be as big as they had been in the past.

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

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists said 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, then 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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