Health Minister David Clark must come clean about funding for new medicines being pulled from Pharmac to settle the nurses’ pay dispute, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.
“This Government promised to prioritise the health system but has instead stripped away money that should have been reinvested into Pharmac meaning new medicines, including those to treat breast cancer that were petitioned for today, won’t be available for some time.
“Today I received a petition on the steps of Parliament signed by almost 34,000 New Zealanders calling on the Minister of Health to fund two drugs for breast cancer sufferers. Unfortunately, given the fact that today in Parliament the Minister couldn’t confirm where he reprioritised Pharmac’s funding to it seems unlikely the petitioner’s requests will be met.
“I directly asked him if he had spoken with officials about $200 million in funding reprioritised from the purchase of new medicines to nurses’ salary increases, but the Minister fudged his answers.
“This is not a question about the nurses getting the settlement they deserve – which they absolutely do – but the fact the Minister has taken buying power away from Pharmac in order to ensure Labour’s union friends are kept onside.
“The Labour-led Government’s self-enforced Budget Responsibility rules and its reckless and untargeted spending has backed them into a corner when it comes to settling multiple pay disputes, but cutting funding for medicines is not the answer.
“It must not be forgotten that Mr Clark and the Labour Party campaigned heavily on making sure Kiwis enjoyed ‘world-class cancer treatment’, but so far they’ve been silent on the issue since they came to power.
“It looks as though the petitioners call for action for breast cancer sufferers will fall on deaf ears. Mr Clark needs to front up on stripping away funds from the entity who provides access to all cancer medicines including the ones petitioned for today.”