Here he is farming out elective surgery to the private sector:
GUYON: Okay let’s talk about elective surgery because the Ministry of Health says at the moment the private sector does about 2% of elective surgery, what would you like to see that rise to?
TONY: Well I don’t think we’ve got a specific number in mind but we very much see the private sector as being supplemental to the work that’s going on in the public sector.
GUYON: But have you got an idea of roughly how much you’d like to see that private sector being involved?
TONY: Well I think there’s a much greater use that could be made than what’s being made at the moment, it’s because we want more service for patients…
Simply astounding. Remember, Ryall isn’t just some guy being asked about his ideas on healthcare – he’s National’s health spokesman and would be Minister of Health under a National government. His ideological obsession with privatisation comes through loud and clear, but he doesn’t seem to know what this would actually entail. He can’t give Guyon a specific number because he has no idea whether the private sector can actually supply a meaningful additional number of elective surgeries. All he has is an ideological opposition to the public health system.
Of course, if the private sector is only providing 2% of elective surgery, then it’s silly to assume (as Ryall does) that private hospitals are employing a load of spare capacity just waiting for public sector contracts.
This is just one example from an interview full of vague proclamations about National’s ability to create a more efficient (read ‘cheaper’ not ‘better’) heath system through privatisation and cutting non-medical staff, but at no point does he back any of this up with specifics, numbers or a real plan (what does “re-engaging health professionals” mean in practice?). Hollow ideas from a hollow man.
Because the fact is Ryall doesn’t really believe a word he’s telling us. He isn’t after a more effective public health system assisted from time to time by the private sector; he wants to gut the public system and make healthcare into just another private commodity. And if you can’t afford to pay? Well, you can go down the road then, can’t you?