Has he received any reports of increases in the number of health bureaucrats?
Yes, I have, repeatedly. Only yesterday Tony Ryall tried one more time to run the cliché that there are armies of bureaucrats running the health system.
Unfortunately for Mr Ryall, Mr Smith, and anyone else who likes to believe this cliché, the facts get in the way of their prejudice. Let me offer them a couple of examples. The first is that the Ministry of Health, which is of course the biggest collection of bureaucrats, manages to soak up less than 2 percent of the health budget; more than 98 percent of the health budget gets through to the front line. The second fact is that, across the whole sector, in recent years the proportion of health professionals has risen as a proportion of the total workforce, and the proportion of management, administration, and support staff has declined as a proportion of the total workforce. That is the case. Those are the facts. They are in the annual report. But, wait, there is one more little thing to be kept in mind here, and that is that if there were still further reductions in management, administration, and support staff, we would get into trouble because then we would have nurses answering the phones or doing the laundry, and that would not be very cost-effective, would it?
Can the Minister advise the House again what the country gets for the massive reinvestment in health?
Immunisations are up; smoking is down; life expectancy has increased; 7,000 more Kiwis got elective surgical services this year; general practitioner fees have halved; most prescriptions are down from $15 to $3; 27 new hospitals are being, or have been, built; 1,000 more women are getting breast screening; and 50,000 more kids are getting fruit in schools each day. The list goes on and on. It is never enough, but those are facts, and they are all gains on where we were at the time of the change in Government.
I seek leave to table two reports by the Minister of Health. The first report states “Wrong again Ryall”, and the second report admits that the Minister got it wrong.
Leave is sought to table those reports. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.
Since the Prime Minister promised to cut a swathe through the health bureaucracy, how many more people are employed in the Ministry of Health today compared with 6 years ago?
Since the Prime Minister said that it was important to cut a swathe through the health bureaucracy, this system has taken out an entire layer of bureaucrats. It used to be called the Health Funding Authority, before that it was called the Transitional Health Authority, and before that we had four regional health authorities. Guess what? They have all gone.