21 Jan 2009

Conference cancelled after value for money queried

6:30 pm on 21 January 2009

The Ministry of Health has cancelled a conference after Health Minister Tony Ryall asked it to examine the value for money.

More than 300 people had registered for the Primary Focus Three conference which was to be held in Wellington next month.

A spokesperson for Mr Ryall asked the ministry to re-examine all conferences to ensure it is getting the best value for the health dollar.

But conference spokesperson Danny Wu says the decision to cancel the three-day conference was made for a number of reasons.

Mr Wu says there were fewer registrations than expected and no external sponsors were found, meaning the ministry would be unable to recover costs.

Despite a registration fee of almost $700, the ministry would have had to to pay $120,000 towards the $350,000 conference.

Mr Wu says there are also many other professional healthcare conferences planned for this year.

Labour's former health minister Annette King says Mr Ryall asked the ministry to cancel the conference so he could score cheap political points.

She says the Government has broken a promise - made in Mr Key's opening speech to Parliament - to give health professionals a greater say in running the health system.