Tony Ryall’s budget mantra of ‘health being the winner’ is ringing ever more hollow as he drags it out for its fifth annual iteration, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.
“Mr Ryall needs to refresh his lines.
“He’s being particularly cute with his ‘more funding than ever before’ statements. Mr Ryall knows as well as anyone that Vote Health requires annual increases just to stand still.
“Unfortunately for him – and despite his protestations to the contrary – the chickens are now coming home to roost.
“Underfunding over the last five years has resulted in district health boards across the country facing huge financial pressures.
“That in turn has led to lengthy waiting times for surgery, delays in maintenance, staff shortages and rising rates of preventable illnesses.
“Mr Ryall has also selectively forgotten he tasked Health Benefits Limited and our DHBs with saving $700 million by 2015.
“$499 million extra funding is needed in tomorrow’s Budget for the sector just to stand still. However, if we want to tackle the growing crisis in public health, including diabetes, respiratory illness, cancer and cardiovascular disease/stroke, then extra funding is needed.
“The number of people being bumped off waiting lists must be addressed – too many are living in pain and with disability – while the capital budget needs to be sufficient to enable immediate maintenance of leaking hospital facilities and the building of vital new health amenities.
“John Key measures Mr Ryall’s success as a Minister as keeping health off the front page. That is hardly something Kiwis missing out on health care would consider to be an achievement.
“What’s needed in health tomorrow is openness and transparency, not more bluster and bull dust from Mr Ryall.”