Paula Bennett returns to Parliament after gastric bypass
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Paula Bennett returns to Parliament after gastric bypass

November 16, 2019

Former deputy prime minister Paula Bennett returned to Parliament today for the first time since undergoing gastric bypass surgery over summer. Ms Bennett who paid to have the operation privately told our political editor Jane Patterson she’s feeling good. I’m feeling much better. I’m on a journey, who knows where the destination, and where that ends. But I’m just feeling 100 percent better than I was. JP: Is it a bit uncomfortable when the political crosses the personal? You’re talking about it as an MP, but there is going to be some exposed interest and attention on it. Yeah, I suppose for me I didn’t really want the innuendo and gossip, and I’ve been known for being a bit upfront and blunt, so I just thought I’d put it out there that I’d done that and then people won’t guess whether I’m sick or had surgery. I can just be me. But I feel like I’ve said enough. I don’t feel like I need to go into details or anything like that. Reporter: would you encourage others to do it? I think it’s personal. I’ve got no advice for anyone else. I don’t stand on any pedestal, I made a personal decision. As I say, I feel great. I feel so much better. But I’m partway through what I think’s going to be a lifetime journey, I hope, of being a bit healthier. JP: What do you make of calls, when it became public, about public funding for surgeries like that, in terms of the health benefits? I feel incredibly privileged that I could afford to pay for it, and I certainly have a whole lot of sympathy for those that can’t. It is … for me it’s only been a few weeks, but it’s already life changing in just how active I am, and how much healthier I am, and some of the corners I have turned. So I certainly can understand those calls for more public funding. Reporter: Given the health benefits, do you believe it should be made more widely available to those that can’t afford it? Look, I’m not the expert and I don’t know enough about it. Certainly I know the Waitemata DHB fairly well and from what I’ve heard they’ve got places available, and they’ve got a course that people go through. So if there’s strong evidence that it’s not enough, then I can certainly have sympathy for that. But I’m not the expert and I’d want to know the facts before I jumped on a bandwagon. Paula Bennett talking at a media stand up at Parliament earlier.

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