Allegations About Health Funding Authority Chief Nonsense

  • Wyatt Creech

"The suggestion from Labour's health spokesperson that Health Funding Authority Chief Executive Phil Pryke's resignation is somehow linked to administration of the Waiting Times Fund is nonsense," new Health Minister Wyatt Creech said today.

"Last week the Health Funding Authority Chair explained to me why Mr Pryke was leaving. It has absolutely nothing to do with internal Authority matters. There is no report suggesting a casual link.

"The Ministry of Health is currently conducting an in-depth look at the Waiting Times Fund. This has been part of the Ministry of Health's ongoing programme of work. I am expecting a full report on the administration of the Waiting Times Fund within a month," Mr Creech said.

The Waiting Times Fund was set up in 1996. It made available $130 million over three years for extra elective surgery. In the 1997/98 Budget the fund was expanded to $280 million over four years. It was designed to address public concern about waiting times by paying for a catch-up on elective surgery and to help the then Regional Health Authorities introduce booking systems to prioritise operations to those with the greatest needs.

Mr Creech said the funding in the Waiting Times Fund was separate from the Ministry's work in monitoring the extra funding provided for new elective surgery in the 1998 Budget ( discussed on National Radio this morning.)

"The 1998 Budget funding for new elective surgery has seen the Health Funding Authority contracted to provide 22,000 extra operations this financial year. The money is providing more operations to more people.

"The Government wants New Zealanders to get those operations and expects them to be delivered," Mr Creech said. "The Ministry of Health has been working with the Health Funding Authority to make sure the 22,000 extra operations are done. I have been advised that the operations are expected to be delivered."