Labour’s health spokesperson David Clark is doing good work:
Fiery exchanges over mental health as Minister fronts to Parliament’s health committee
Coleman’s appearance came at the same time the Labour Party released its own updated figures, claiming $2.3 billion had been effectively stripped from the health budget due to successive years of underfunding.
“The gap is why mental health care is in crisis and patients are being discharged into caravan parks, it’s why people aren’t going to the doctor because of rising fees, and it’s why elective surgery is becoming harder to qualify for,” Labour health spokesman David Clark said outside the meeting. …
$2.3 billion shortfall in health
The funding needed for health to be restored to the level it was seven years ago to keep pace with cost pressures has widened to a massive $2.3 billion, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.
“We used to have a health system that was the envy of the world, where people could access quality, free health care. As a parent, it saddens me that families are not getting the health services this country should be providing.
“The gap is why mental health care is in crisis and patients are being discharged into caravan parks, it’s why people aren’t going to the doctor because of rising fees, and it’s why elective surgery is becoming harder to qualify for.
“The huge sums of money missing from health are why workers in the sector are overstretched, exhausted and operating without the resources they need to care for Kiwi patients properly.
“The updated study by economic consultants Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, sees the gap since 2009/10 in core crown health expenditure that is required to meet cost pressures grow from $1.7 billion last year to $2.3 billion by June 2018. Infometrics used Treasury’s own modelling for calculating real health costs for core crown health expenditure. …
Frustration, disappointment over health funding in Budget 2017
Patients and healthcare workers say they have been left frustrated and disappointed by “inadequate” funding for health in the 2017 Budget.
They said the Government’s announcements on Thursday would not go nearly far enough in addressing concerns about overworked staff, access to new medicines, and access to mental health treatment.
The Government said total health spending would be a record $16.77 billion in 2017/18 – an increase of $879 million, with an overall increase of $3.9b over the next four years.
However, the record claim does not take inflation into account, and sidesteps the fact that almost half the spending will go toward mandated wage increases as part of the pay equity settlement. …
Read on for more on the impact on mental health, overworked staff, and access to medicines. Here’s what the nurses have to say:
Think of your health when voting this September, nurses urge
New Zealanders are being asked to think of the health system when they cast a vote this September. A nurses’ union released an open letter saying “it’s getting harder to do the work that we trained for”.
“Health underfunding means that sometimes we’re not able to give you the best. We are often short-staffed, rushed, and need a little more time to give you care,” the letter says.
“We are sad sometimes because of what we couldn’t do for your tamariki, your grandparents or your neighbour. Many of you are feeling frustrated by delays in getting the healthcare you deserve and expect. We are frustrated, too.”
The letter tells voters who they back is a personal choice and doesn’t name any political parties, but makes clear the organisation’s position that health funding is not adequate under the National-led Government. …
And a selection of recent headlines for context:
Study shows ‘damning’ level of unmet health care need. “The Government needs to demonstrate its commitment to the health of all New Zealanders by addressing the high levels of unmet health need as a matter of priority.”
Nurses spending their own money to help patients – union. “The Nurses Organisation says hospital patients are soiling themselves because there aren’t enough nurses to help them to the bathroom.”
Leaked document shows 10 District Health Boards face budget cuts: King. “Labour claims that health has been underfunded to the tune of $1.7 billion over the last five years…”
Researchers claim NZ health budget declining, publicly-funded surgery on way out. “New Zealand’s health budget has been declining for almost a decade and could signal health reforms akin to the sweeping changes of the 1990s, new research claims.”
Families’ despair as hospitals face severe shortages for acute mental health treatment. “Hospital beds for people suffering from extreme mental distress are stretched to breaking point, with double as many people being seen for crisis assessments as there are bed nights available.”
Auckland’s crumbling mental health services. “The problem was a lack of funding as more people accessed mental health services and Auckland struggled with an increasing population and rising house prices…”
Thousands of patients going without hospital care, figures show. “Dr Mackay says funding levels for health are a “disaster waiting to happen…””
Call to government to address rural health crisis. “Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), representing over 40 rural based organisations, says the country’s rural health and social workforce is in crisis.”
Patients turned away. “Nearly a third of orthopaedic patients referred for a first specialist assessment are being turned away from Dunedin Hospital, and the situation is becoming “untenable”…”
Despite denials, poor service plagues our health system. “New Zealand’s public health system, which was once the pride of the developed world, is clearly ailing.”
New Zealand’s declining health care system is slipping behind other countries’. “Our national health system was once the envy of the world; it is no longer. The facts show that we underperform in many areas.”
There have been cuts, freezes, and underfunding everywhere to generate enough of a “surplus” to try and buy back some votes. In the end what it means in this sector is that a lot of real people not getting the care that they need.
— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) June 6, 2017
— New Zealand Labour (@nzlabour) May 25, 2017