28 May 2014

Ryall grilled over health funding

9:04 pm on 28 May 2014

Health Minister Tony Ryall has faced a grilling at Parliament over funding for health announced in the Budget.

It occurred at a wide-ranging Health select committee session on Wednesday focused on health spending generally.

Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Health Minister Tony Ryall. Photo: RNZ

Mr Ryall told MPs that the Budget in May didn't provide everything everyone wanted, but represented a significant investment in health.

However, Labour Party MP Iain Lees-Galloway said it wasn't enough to meet growing demands on the health system.

"We're seeing pressures on (Wellington's) Capital and Coast DHB struggling to overcome their deficit. Just how much blood do you think is left in the stone and how do you expect the health system to respond to this continual under-funding?"

Iain Lees-Galloway.

Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

Mr Lees-Galloway said the sector faced a funding cut in real terms of 2.3 percent.

Mr Ryall replied he did not accept the sector is under-funded, but agreed that more is being expected of it.

The minister was also asked who would actually pay for free doctors' visits for young children. Extending these to children from six to 13 was the major policy initiative in the Budget.

Mr Lees-Galloway demanded to know how much the Government will offer GPs to make it happen. Mr Ryall wouldn't say, explaining that negotiations are needed with doctors and haven't happened yet.

Mr Lees-Galloway continued anyway: "What's the guarantee that practices won't offset any additional costs they incur by adopting this policy by increasing the adult charges for GPs?"

Mr Ryall said he's sure a deal would reached, but didn't say when.

"We've still got this negotiation to go under way. I'm quite confident we'll be able to meet at a deal that will be sufficient to ensure that general practice feels that they're fairly recompensed, and the taxpayers feel they're getting a reasonable deal."