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New documents released under the Official Information Act show David Clark’s attempt to blame the previous Government for the Holidays Act debacle isn’t grounded in facts, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“DHBs were asked by the previous Government on multiple occasions beginning in April 2015 whether there were potential breaches in the Holidays Act, and assured the Ministry of Health that everything was fine.

“But on unveiling a massive combined deficit of $1 billion this week, David Clark claimed this was because the previous Government ‘did nothing’.

“That’s just not true. When proactively asked about potential breaches of the Holidays Act, the Ministry of Health and DHBs advised that ‘all were compliant’, saying ‘we can confidently say that all DHBs are compliant with the legislation’.

“We now know that the fallout from misinterpreting the Holidays Act will cost more than half a billion dollars. This Government learned of the problems after it came into office and it’s Dr Clark that has done nothing since he became aware of them. Even now he will take two years to reimburse the underpayments. It’s simply not good enough.

“Dr Clark should be urgently looking into how things went so wrong. Thousands of health workers have had their leave underpaid for years, and New Zealanders need assurances that the issues have been comprehensively fixed.

“At a time when this Labour-led Government has put the health sector under significant pressure and DHB deficits are getting out of control, this is yet another addition to an already overstressed balance sheet.

“This Government has failed to get a grip on the health system and Kiwis will pay the price for its failures.”

Notes to editors: Attached are OIAs revealing that the MoH and DHBs assured the previous Government of compliance with the Holidays Act.

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