Minister feels the pressure

5931770POLITICAL PULSE: Health Minister Tony Ryall had his blood pressure checked at Timaru's Bidwill Hospital yesterday. Looking on, from left, are Leanne Allnutt, Mark Hervey, Val Flynn and National's Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew.

Ryall has high blood pressure ahead of election

Timaru Herald
RHONDA MARKBY

Health Minister Tony Ryall knew he was doomed the minute the suggestion was made – the suggestion that he have his blood pressure taken.

In Timaru on the campaign trail yesterday, Mr Ryall visited hospitals, old folks home, held a public meeting, paid a surprise visit to his cousin, and had his blood pressure taken. And yes it was high. The man who claims to normally have very healthy blood pressure knew the news would not be good when the test was administered during a visit to the Bidwill Trust Hospital. Could it be, he quipped later, due to the fact that the media was present? While not in a hurry to reveal the actual reading, Mr Ryall also put the high reading down to being less than three weeks out from an election. He has no doubt his blood pressure peaks on a three-yearly election cycle.

But is the health minister healthy? Does the man who touts his party's policies on nutrition – the fruit in schools programme combined with Kiwisport to help promote physical activity in children – practise what he preaches? Yes, says the politician, adding it's not always easy to eat well during the election campaign. There was the prizegiving which began at 6.45pm the previous night meaning he was not home until 10.30. That's not, he admits, the best timetable for sensible eating patterns. But then he did manage a baked potato and salad for lunch in Timaru. And he does still try to fit in three bike rides a week. Yes, the health minister reckons he is healthy and chances are the blood pressure will be at a healthier level after November 26.

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