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Labour Suspicious About Govt's Plans For Health Service

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Ruth Dyson
Ruth Dyson

Wellington, Sept 29 NZPA - The Labour Party is suspicious about the Government's plans for the public health service and says creating a new "super bureaucracy" in the form of a National Health Board (NHB) won't work.

Establishing an NHB is one of the main recommendations of a review report released in June, and most of the country's 21 district health boards support it.

Health Minister Tony Ryall today released responses on the report.

District Health Board of New Zealand, the umbrella organisation which represents DHBs, said an NHB offered "significant value" and most DHBs supported it having responsibility for funding and monitoring the service.

Mr Ryall has previously said he is not committed to any of the recommendations in the report and said the feedback on it would be carefully considered.

Labour's health spokeswoman, Ruth Dyson, said Mr Ryall had already make up his mind about the future direction of health services.

"This is more about Mr Ryall trying to impose his own vision for health than about a genuine attempt to make the current health system work better," she said.

"A strong Ministry of Health entrusted with promoting national priorities, combined with DHBs managing health needs within their own communities, is a far more compelling recipe for improving frontline services than simply adding an expensive layer of national bureaucracy on top of what already exists."

Ms Dyson said an NHB looked very much like the failed Health Funding Authority model of the 1990s.

"An NHB won't do anything to enhance frontline services and may actually achieve the opposite."

The New Zealand Medical Association said it supported the principle of an NHB but had reservations about its ability to make savings, given the continuing existence of the 21 DHBs.

The Association of Salaries Medical Specialists said it creating an NHB would risk "a paralysis in decision-making".

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