Health Minister David Clark has admitted in Parliament yesterday that he used funds that should have been reinvested into medicines for New Zealanders to offset the cost of wage settlements that his Government didn’t fully fund, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“After clearly evasive answers in Parliament yesterday, David Clark has been forced to admit that he stripped $200 million of Pharmac savings to fund the nurses’ settlements and even told DHBs they should use the savings for that very purpose.

“This is entirely inappropriate. Pharmac’s funding model enables savings made during the bulk purchasing of medicines to be re-invested to ensure continually improving and increasing access to medicines for New Zealanders.

“It is not set up so that the Minister can milk the Pharmaceutical budget to compensate for his Government’s overpromising.

“At first the Minister tried to deny that he diverted $200 million of Pharmac savings using creative accounting to make it look as though he had increased the budget when really he had simply moved procurement around.

“Now it’s clear that he not only stripped this funding away but that he used it to fund the nurses’ settlement that the Government should have been able to fund themselves.

“He then claimed more medicines are being bought for more New Zealanders but when pressed on the details of how many medicines, he didn’t have a clue.

“As we have seen in the last few days, increasing access to new and more medicines is vital for the health of New Zealanders. This can’t be done if Pharmac’s funding for medicines is not regularly increased.

“The Government needs to front up to ensure that Pharmac’s funding is not ransacked in the future and it needs to revaluate its prioritisation if $2.8 billion for fees free for students but nothing to provide cheaper doctors’ visits or medicines funding.”

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