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NoRightTurn: Nats let IHC burn

Written By: - Date published: 6:14 am, October 15th, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: health, public services, wages - Tags: , ,

I/S writes:

Last week, the government put two IHC companies into statutory management after they indicated that they would not be able to pay staff wages owed as a result of a court case. Today in Parliament, health minister Tony Ryall was asked repeatedly whether the government would stump up the money to rescue those companies and ensure their staff could be paid. His response – repeated several times – was that “the liability lies with the provider”. In other words, the government is going to refuse to pay up, let these companies go bankrupt, and throw their clients out on the street.

The government is pretending it doesn’t have the money to do otherwise. Bullshit. As with their cuts to ECE, this is simply a question of priorities. And as there, National has decided that tax cuts to the elite few and ETS subsidies to their farmer mates come before essential health services for the disabled. And that’s National in a nutshell: screwing the many to give more to the few.

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This issue has arisen because IHC carers have won a court case over whether nighttime shifts constitute work. Apparently, they’re now owed half a billion in back pay and the ongoing wage bill will be$80 million more. IHC non-profit providers, which are mainly funded by the government, don’t have that kind of cash, while the government, which ultimately writes the IHC’s cheques, is washing its hands. Like I/S says, that’s a choice. The Nats have plenty of money for the rich in tax cuts, for ETS subsidies, for the SCF bailout but nothing for the disabled.

I actually don’t think I/S’s prediction is quite on the money. National can’t afford the political cost of kicking thousands of mentally disabled people out of home. What they can do is let the existing providers go bankrupt and have their operations bought up by corporate organisations like Mission Australia, who won’t have to pay the back wages and can employ the carers on worse terms. In China, they call it crisi-tunity.

20 comments on “NoRightTurn: Nats let IHC burn ”

  1. Bored 1

    I think you have rumbled Ryall, the plan has got to be to put IHC under and replace it thus avoiding the debt. Ryalls cynicism is just incredible.

  2. roger nome 2

    Disgraceful – just confirms that National is leading us down the wrong path. If a society can be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable, National is certainly failing New Zealand. Hopefully this fact hits home to more than half of us before the next election.

    • Kate 2.1

      Lets be fair.the people who work at IHC signed a contract and knew how much they were going to get paid. If they did not like it dont sigh it Why blame the Nats this was ongoing from the Labour Goverment

  3. What a stunning contrast…bail out a finance company AND cover risky investors at premium 8% returns as well…IHC..you’re on your own. No clearer contrast of what makes the Nats tick.

  4. roger nome 4

    National should adopt that old supergrass song “in it for the money” as their theme song. Maybe they could get around paying royalties by altering the song slightly 😉

  5. ianmac 5

    This is a common business model isn’t it? Drive the target down then kindly, through a proxy, rescue it by buying it out at a drastically reduced value. Then strip its assets. Sell the halfway houses and build a hospital-like complex where IH people can be housed at a much cheaper rate. Can they get away with it? Probably.

  6. Treetop 6

    It is hard to attract the right type of person required to work with people who have a physical or intellectual or physical/intellectual disability. All the government are doing is to deter qualified, and caring employees from working with a marginalised and vulnerable group who have high needs.

    Were family’s to stick it to the govenment and not care for their loved ones (and many do) the government would not cope. To the government it is just business, but to a family it is about being responsible and offering their relative as full a life they can have and to reach their potential.

    Honestly Tony Ryall needs to go and work in an IHC facility for a week doing night shift.

  7. ianmac 7

    Some years ago when my daughter had been on the DPB, she got a job as a night-time IHC house mother. Pay very small. Tricky work at times. Its another one of those that has relied on good will rather than good employer. The Govt of the day decided to close large hospital so that the IH people could get a life- but on the cheap. Govt must finance IHC.

    • millsy 7.1

      The closure of the large mental hospitals were a huge mistake. Liberal-left PC attitudes line up with right wing privatisation and social darwinist ideology to create a monster.

      Yes, there was a lot of abuse and bad practices in those hospitals, and the people who encouraged or turned a blind eye to those happenings need to be taken out the back and shot, but chucking the mental patients out onto the street (some cases quite litterally) was the biggest mistake this country made.

      All it did was place the burden on the welfare, prison and police system.

      • just saying 7.1.1

        False dichotomy there Millsy.

        All people deserve to participate in the community as fully as possible. And it’s not a case of a few rotten eggs, institutions and abuse go hand in hand. The results of deinstitutionalisation have come about because of the lack of supports and services, particularly quality living arrangements.

        What happened was about saving all that money. If those that undertook the process had given a rat’s arse about the quality of life of those incarcerated they would have properly catered for their needs. They didn’t.

        • millsy

          While I agree with your point about instititions and abuse (I find it interesting that nobody has pointed out James Webster’s parents are really the ones to blame for their son’s death for sending their child to be effectively brought up in the toxic enviroment of a boy’s boarding school), the fact is, that in the like of Lake Alice and Tokanui, the inhabitants more or less got the care they needed, by highly paid skilled workers, not by people paid as much as a checkout lady. They had doctors and nurses on call 24-7, and during the day time, they were engaged in activities that were more or less stimulating, such working on a farm, gardening, woodwork shops, etc. What do they do in the halfway houses? From what I heard, just sitting around rocking. Some probably have fulltime jobs, but I am not sure how they are treated by their fellow workers, some would be treated OK, but others like crap.

          Probably the best comprimise would have to have some sort of residential village setting, where the patients/clients would live in flatting style situations as independently as possible, but have care staff avalible 24-7.

          • Treetop

            millsy, James died due to those who encountered him during the evening, not realising how lethal alcohol can be. James himself was also unaware of how lethal alcohol can be.

            • millsy

              Yes, but if he wasant packed off to boarding school in the first place, by parents who couldnt be bothered to guide him through his teen years, he would be still here.

              And they are probably the types of people who go on about how poor people leave their kids at home when they go to the pub.

              • Treetop

                James attending a boarding school is not relevant to how lethal alcohol can be. I find it to be very insulting that you are suggesting that his parent’s “couldn’t be bothered to guide him through his teen years.”

                I have no connection with the Webster family either.

                • millsy

                  Isnt that’s why parents pack kids off the boarding school?

                  I am sorry if I come across as insulting, but really, we really need to start asking these questions rather than going into some panic at the thought of a 16 year old with a bottle of bourbon.

                  • Treetop

                    When you have money you have more educational choices. Boarding school also is conveinient e.g. after school activities are often provided, such as sports and music.

                    Alcohol consumption is the ruin of many family’s, it could be argued that a child may be better off in a boarding school if there is violence in the home due to alcohol use.

                    All adolescents experiment on some level, when they get in the shit, this is when they really need good support to get through.

                    I am off the original thread topic and your opinion is as valid as mine is.

  8. millsy 8

    The DHB’s/MoH should really be owning and running the halfway houses, and not outsourcing to a private company, even if it is a charity type organisation.

    Something Labour needs to think about at its conference this weekend.

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