Key lied on health cuts

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 am, November 3rd, 2011 - 12 comments
Categories: election 2011, health, john key - Tags:

In the TVNZ debate on Monday, John Key claimed that he had cut ‘back office’ jobs and increased health services.That wasn’t true. The fact is, funding cuts have reduced the capacity of many health services. ‘Front-line’ staff are doing ‘back office’ work as well and everything else is getting squeezed to put more money into ‘sexy’ elective surgery numbers.

Here’s the story:

Rehabilitation medicine consultant physician Jurriaan de Groot said he was left outraged at a statement made by Mr Key in a televised leaders debate that only administrative jobs had been cut from the public health service.

Mr Key made the comment after Labour leader Phil Goff pointed out that at the last election National promised to cap numbers in the public service – not cut them.

In response, Mr Key said: “We’ve cut administration in the public service. We have hired more doctors and nurses and midwives, and guess what? Cancer waiting times, times for treatment are down to four weeks.”

Dr de Groot said the slashing of MidCentral District Health Board’s rehabilitative Star Unit from 12 beds to eight, proved Mr Key was “wrong at best, deliberately misleading at worst”. “It certainly wasn’t just administrative services that were cut from there, the hospital lost a valuable resource expertise and they’ll never get it back.”

Dr de Groot ran the MidCentral rehab service for people under 65 for 16 years, but he said he left to set up his own practice early this year after cuts made to the service rendered his role impracticable.

Midway through last year, MidCentral District Health Board made the decision to cut Palmerston North Hospital’s under-65s rehabilitation unit from a 12-bed to an eight-bed unit – one of many cuts to rehabilitation services throughout the region after being told by the Health Ministry to cut $10 million of spending from its budget.

MidCentral Health had been subsidising the cost of providing more beds than it was contracted to do, and was only being paid $432 from the ministry a day, compared with $678 paid to other rehabilitation services.

“It was like them removing the string and the brass section from an orchestra and then saying `make do with that’ – I was effectively waving my wand to an empty room – so I think for John Key to stand there and say that is terrible.”

Dr de Groot made his comments as the owner and lead consultant of Central Rehabilitation Medicine Limited, however, he is also the New Zealand Branch chairman for the rehabilitation medicine faculty of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

Palmerston North MP and Labour associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said it was typical of National’s inability to see the big picture. “To me, it’s a direct consequence of National’s very narrow health policy. When the DHB was told `you’ve got to find $10 million worth of cuts’ they had no option but to take money out of important services and pump it into the target areas, all so they can look good on the league tables.”

12 comments on “Key lied on health cuts”

  1. Over 3 weeks, and still waiting for ACC to give approval for more physiotherapy for the signifcant injury to one of my limbs. Still no explanation from ACC as to why the non-approval – I keep asking. Is this the result of cuts to ACC funding/staffing?

  2. bankable 2

    James – Nice stretching of the “truth”

    Key was asked about public service job reductions. He said yes they have reduced public service jobs but that state sector jobs (doctors, nurses, policemen etc..) have been increased as that is in line with their priorities.

    He didn’t say that there hadn’t been changes to health service delivery. There have been numerous changes as Tony Ryall has outlined in press statements, budget papers, and DHBs have released in their annual reports and district annual plans. All publicly available information.

    You need to separate in your mind the difference between public service jobs (primarily Ministries and Departments), state sector jobs, and what are commonly referred to as “public services”. They all mean different things.

    • Ianupnorth 2.1

      Unfortunately you are very wrong; money has been slashed from prevention and rehab and transferred into ‘elective surgery’ and ‘decreased waiting times’.
      Yes Tony Ryall has produced some lovely, competitive table showing jolly nice improvements in numbers of people treated, what he is unable (or reluctant) to demonstrate are the stats in relation to obesity, type 11 diabetes, access to dentistry, skin infections, etc. All the diseases of poverty are on the rise.
      Money has been pinched from effective programmes to fund (and appease Tariana) whanau ora; they are now promising free out of ours visits for under 6’s – again, no new funding, slashes from undisclosed sources.

    • Craig Glen Eden 2.2

      Nice try but thats not what key said at all, Key said

      “We’ve cut administration in the public service. We have hired more doctors and nurses and midwives, and guess what? Cancer waiting times, times for treatment are down to four weeks.”

      As the Doctor pointed out above and Key admitted they have cut admin but they have also lost bed numbers in some services and when you loose bed numbers you can loose Doctors as in this case.

      Key did not say oh and yeah some Nurses and Doctors jobs may have gone he told the brighter future meme. What National have done is taken from some services in public health and given to others. Key wanted to leave the impression he ( National) had got rid of muppet’s that were not needed and whola more cancer services were able to be delivered as a result of more Nurses and Doctors in the health system, another words look how clever we are. Sad truth is National will leave bloddy great wholes as the always do and Labour will have to rebuild all over again.

  3. McFlock 3

    Well, actually it was Dr de Groot making the assertion, from first hand experience.
    Are you saying Key is more likely to tell the truth than Dr de Groot?
    Yeah, right.

  4. ron 4

    The picture inside health is repeated across the departments. “Back room” jobs have been slashed and budgets have been lowered. The consequence is that front line staff are fulfilling back room roles as well as their front line roles AND are expected to deliver more for less. The consequence of that is reduced services, appalling response times, mismanagement and chaos.
    Example. TEC. It is mid-November and TEC still have not released the details of next year’s contract for Youth Guarantees. Providers were given one week to submit their plan for next year with limited information. It is nigh on umpossible to talk to anyone in TEC. TEC staff don’t talk to MSD staff who don’t talk to NZQA staff. At a recent conference people arriving at the TEC session were told “if you’re looking for answers to what’s happening next year – you’re in the wrong place.”. MSD staff are charging around in TEC funded operations making illegal demands and threatening to pull contracts (that they don’t own). The contracts they have finalised – FFTO etc – are ridiculous in their expectations and will result in a large number of low skilled unemployed actually missing out on the training FFTO is designed to provide them because providers will aim at a more skilled group in order to ensure the increased targets are met.
    All of this is directly related to fewer staff being expected to deliver more with lower budgets.
    It’s the usual brainless, narrow Tory thinking.

  5. warren 5

    And another health service cut at MidCentral DHB in a letter I received from them today.
    Kidney patients treating themselves at home (which saves the health service a lot of money BTW) up until now had access to an after hours helpline if there are any difficulties carrying out their treatment. I have had to use this service in the past, and the matter was easily resolved upon receiving the advice of an on-call Renal nurse in a 2-minute phone call. Now they seriously expect people to travel from Wanganui to the Emergency Dept in Palmerston (80km away) to ask a question! This treatment is carried out 4 times per day including in evenings and weekends. So if you have a problem doing your last CAPD exchange at 10pm at night, do not have access to a car, how on earth do they expect you to get yourself from Wanganui to Palmerston North? There are no buses at that time. A taxi would cost around $300! Just to ask for advice! It’s unbelievable, and the media just don’t report the death of 1000 cuts like this going on at underfunded DHB’s around the country.

    • Vicky32 5.1

      Just to ask for advice! It’s unbelievable,

      Hell’s teeth, you’re right, that truly sucks…

  6. william 6

    Warren, how about posting the full communication you were sent about what to do now that the helpline is not available?

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