7 September 2011
Ryall rules out child health as a priority
It is incomprehensible that the Minister of Health is refusing to reintroduce targets to reduce the number of children
being admitted to hospital with avoidable conditions, Labour’s Health spokesperson Grant Robertson says.
“The recently released Children’s Social Health Monitor showed that 5,000 extra children had been admitted to hospital
over the last three years for conditions such as skin infections and respiratory illnesses, a sign that access to
primary health services is not always available when it should be.
“I asked Tony Ryall in Parliament today what he was planning to do to rectify that. Sadly the Minister ruled out making
it a priority for District Health Boards.
“It is something that could have serious consequences for the long term health of New Zealanders,” Grant Robertson said.
“The report also pointed out that the lack of early treatment could lead to permanent health damage to these children.
“The Minister agreed this was happening, yet then confirmed he wouldn’t reinstate a target to reduce the number of
avoidable hospital admissions as a health priority, as it was under the last Labour government.
“The increase in the rate is also a sign of the growing rates of child poverty,” Grant Robertson said.
“Respiratory illnesses and skin infections are diseases of poverty. The Minister has boasted about his ‘Saying Ahh’
programme, a $12 million spend on a throat swabbing campaign to reduce rheumatic fever.
“That’s all well and good, but the truth is we will not eradicate rheumatic fever while children live in overcrowded,
cold damp homes, and while their parents do not have adequate incomes or jobs.”
“Labour will make the health of children a priority. All the evidence points to enormous gains in both health and
economic terms if we focus on early intervention and the wider social causes of ill-health.
“This means investing in children up front, rather than sitting on the side-lines as the current government is doing,”
Grant Robertson said.