Cuts in health spending to cover quake costs

4:32 pm on 25 March 2011

The health sector is being asked to cut, defer or slow its spending so more money can go to fixing Christchurch's health system following February's devastating earthquake.

Radio New Zealand's health correspondent says public health services there are fragile and it will be months before they are back to normal.

Christchurch Hospital is without four wards and more than 100 beds as a result of the quake. Up to 40 patients have been sent to other parts of New Zealand for surgery.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the costs will be considerable and the entire health system will have to meet them as the Canterbury District Health Board can not carry the burden alone.

Mr Ryall has made several trips to Christchurch to assess the damage, including one with associate health minister Jonathan Coleman recently.

The elderly are another major pressure point. More than 500 rest home residents have been sent to other locations throughout the country.

More on this issue can be heard on Radio New Zealand's Insight programme on Sunday.