Prime Minister John Key is rejecting Annette King's assertion that Health Minister Tony Ryall has been shutting down criticism from within the sector.
Ms King was given the shadow health portfolio in Monday's reshuffle and immediately attacked Mr Ryall.
"One of the things I know has happened is that there is a climate of fear, of speaking out, and people unhappy with health don't want their names used," said the former health minister.
"Tony Ryall has been very successful in closing down health, it looks smooth on the surface but it isn't underneath - he's a hard taskmaster if anyone falls out of line."
Mr Key says that's not true.
"I don't think there's any evidence supporting that," he said.
"Tony has done an outstanding job in health, we're achieving far better results than they (Labour) did, with more operations, more doctors and nurses, district health boards on top of their deficits."
Mr Key says health is one of the Government's success stories and Mr Ryall is on top of his portfolio.
Ms King says health sector workers have been afraid to talk about problems but she's going to change that.
"I'm going to tell their stories."