The New Zealand Health Department has almost 200 people employed in its communications office, it has been revealed.
Health Minister Ayesha Verrall made the admission in response to a question from the National Party which has criticised the government over the size of the public service.
The massive team has played a key role in managing what former PM Jacinda Ardern referred to as the country's 'single source of truth' advice during the Covid-19 pandemic.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon said the health department’s communications office would be a “good place to start” cutting the public service.
Verrall said the high number of comms staff was a result of Te Whatu Ora, a health agency created by the Government last year, taking over what had been the responsibility of around 30 district health boards.
A spokesperson for the agency told Radio New Zealand that they were “still developing the final operating model for the organisation”.
"This is a significant piece of work that also includes making sure we have the right people in the right place. As part of this, we are shortly about to start a design process to determine how many communications staff Te Whatu Ora will need in the future."