17 May 2010

District nursing cuts a disgrace - Labour

4:59 pm on 17 May 2010

The Labour Party says a move to end the last 24 hour district nursing service in New Zealand is an absolute disgrace.

MidCentral District Health Board is considering three options to reduce the service, including cutting it to business hours, Monday to Friday or from 7am to 11pm, seven days per week.

MidCentral Health reported a deficit of almost $10 million last financial year. The district covers a population of about 158,000 people in the lower North Island.

Labour's health spokesperson Ruth Dyson says the move won't save money. She says it will simply shift costs from the public system on to individuals, their families and organisations such as hospices.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says he's been assured the changes to the district nursing service will not see terminally ill people without overnight cover.

Mr Ryall says there will be more money in this week's Budget for the DHB, but it needs to shift to a more sound financial footing.

The local hospice received almost $300,000 extra in last year's Budget.

A final decision on the future of MidCentral's district nursing service will be made in July.