Stealth in health, is David Clark overreaching?

Stacey Kirk looks at some serious issues within the health portfolio, which is headed by the increasingly sneaky and furtive David Clark: Quote:

Imagine the progress that could be made?if that was the base assumption, and then the starting point of any new government could be “we don’t think this is working, but maybe we can make this better?without starting from scratch” (within reason).

When any new government comes in there is an urgent need to dismantle its predecessor’s work. Because, well, politics.

There are few areas of Government that are more politicised than health.?Yet a politicised debate might be?the most harmful debate to have in an already-struggling system that then has to grapple with reinventing the wheel with every new minister.

This week, Stuff revealed?the planned introduction of a very specific mental health programme was quietly canned earlier in the year. It would have seen a mental health worker attend?all crisis calls along with police and ambulance staff.

That decision comes hot on the heels of news Health Minister David Clark ordered National Health Targets to cease being publicly reported, and it was also recently revealed by Stuff the Government had dropped $6.5m in funding for cochlear implant surgeries.?

That is not to say any of these were bad decisions ? each might have been completely warranted, but there’s currently no way to know. Not a press release or pro-active release of advice in relation to any of these decisions has been issued. Clark did incorrectly claim there was no money for the mental health project, pointed to a?mostly debunked?news story?regarding health targets, and refused to comment on the cochlear implant funding.??End quote.

The cochlear-funding decision was particularly heartless. But David Clark is fast developing a reputation for being duplicitous, sneaky and doctrinaire.?Quote:

It’s fine for any government to come in and say they don’t agree with a previous approach ? to simply have different priorities and to say so. But it’s also fair to expect there is a?cache of advice from officials into every decision a minister makes and it might be helpful for Clark to start producing some.?

This week, National MP Matt Doocey?sent out a number of letters calling for a cross-parliamentary group to tackle the mental health crisis. It was broadly accepted as a good idea from most parties?but not without political snipes questioning each other’s records. Fine.

But let’s hope politics doesn’t get in the way of progress here.?There is a place for political theatre; it’s part of the machine that keeps all MPs honest.

If all MPs could accept their counterparts are coming from a genuine place, then perhaps a collective will to work together could do for health?what a similar group, set up by former Green MP Kennedy Graham,?did for climate change.

One thing we can all agree on?is some things should be above politics.

So it shouldn’t be too much to?expect all MPs with a health portfolio to get on with it. End quote.

It’s a bit motherhood and apple pie, but I believe National MPs would consider such an approach. The way Labour have framed everything up, however, using terms like “nine long years of neglect” etc, isn’t helping. They use it so often that it has now become meaningless.

Labour ministers are yet to grasp the fact that they are in charge now. If something isn’t working, it’s their fault.

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