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Tight Times To Continue In Health; Ryall

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tony Ryall
Tony Ryall

Wellington, Oct 7 NZPA - Health Minister Tony Ryall has continued to fire warning shots about tight times ahead in the public sector and says the next health sector budget increase will be less generous than in previous years.

Speaking at the New Zealand Emergency Department Conference in Taupo today, Mr Ryall said the international financial situation had continued to deteriorate, and the impact here meant there needed to be a continued focus on getting better and more health care from existing resources.

He referred to steps being taken by several northern hemisphere countries to reign in public spending, including public sector pay freezes, reductions in public servant numbers, and in some cases targeted public sector pay cuts.

"The next year will also be difficult in the health sector as the increase in funding in next year's budget will not be as substantial as throughout the 2000s or even our first budget. It will still be an increase but not as big an increase," he said.

Mr Ryall said one of the Government's health targets was to get 95 percent of emergency department patients to be admitted, discharged or transferred from emergency departments within six hours, and progress was pleasing considering presentations had grown about 20 percent in five years.

He said although such targets might appear easier to achieve at smaller hospitals, many of the bigger ones throughout the country had made good gains in achieving or working towards the 95 percent target.

Mr Ryall also encouraged health boards to address the high number of aged residential care residents presenting at emergency departments.

Such visits were happening at a rate about twice the international benchmark, he said.

"There is an opportunity to consider reallocating the costs incurred at hospital level towards preventing rest home residents presenting in the first place by improving clinical and professional resources in the community."

Figures released last week show the public sector here has been trimmed over and above targets set by National after it came into power, and Mr Ryall, who is also State Services Minister, said further cuts were expected.

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