Public health about people not headlines

The health sector is at breaking point with DHBs looking to cut services as they struggle to balance their books, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“National has underfunded health to the tune of $1.7 billion over six years.

“The result of that is hospitals with no money to take on new nursing recruits, exhausted staff at the end of their tether, tens of thousands of New Zealanders stuck in no-man’s land waiting to get onto surgical waiting lists, and police having to attend mental health callouts. At the same time DHB staff are owed almost $500 million in outstanding annual leave.

“In plain language that’s a sector in crisis and it’s not sustainable.

 “Not investing in health has an impact not only on staff and patients, but also on families and ultimately communities.

“The Government needs to wake up to the fact that if it continues down its current path then we’ll find ourselves having to deal with some even bigger problems in future, not the least of which will be an ageing population minus the necessary medical workforce to meet increased health demands.

“John Key has said the success of a health minister is to keep health off the front pages of the paper.

“If recent headlines are anything to go by, then Jonathan Coleman’s in real trouble. It’s time he took short-term political expediency off the agenda and properly resourced New Zealand’s public health system,” Annette King says.