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National pledges to keep PHOs

Published: 6:51AM Thursday August 11, 2005 Source: RNZ

National Party leader Don Brash has used a speech in Auckland to outline his party's health policy, promising to keep Primary Health Organisations.

But Brash is flagging changes to the universal PHO subsidy scheme if elected to power.

He says people like himself don't need a $26 subsidy to see a doctor.

The Labour Party says that is the clearest indication yet that National will means test doctors visits and that it is a sign that they want to bring back community services cards, dividing New Zealanders into so-called rich and the poor.

Brash is refusing to be drawn into the debate though saying he won't reveal more until the official release of his party's health policy in two or three weeks.

In his speech Brash also outlined plans to hold a full review of the functions performed by the Ministry of Health and related agencies, to streamline operations and improve efficiency. But he reiterated it would not be a precursor to major restructuring.

Brash says National would also seek to remove unnecessary administration and duplication, by better planning at local and central levels and would remove the barriers to people accessing private providers, where the public system lacks capacity.