New Zealand Labour Party

Bleak year on cards for health workforce

A Government budget document dump reveals district health board underfunding will put pay increases for public sector health workers, including nurses and doctors, at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

Cost pressures mean district health boards have not been fully funded to cover wage increases for the 40,000 workers whose contracts are up for renegotiation shortly.

“DHBs are already looking at a $141 million budget shortfall. Even a 2 per cent pay rise could cost $48 million.

“That means just one thing - cuts to health services or a pay freeze.

“The Government has been warned time and time again that DHBs are at breaking point. These documents not only show they are, but that the Ministry of Health is also under the gun.

“It wanted $150 million for 2015/16; it received $76 million, which Cabinet papers reveal will result in commitments being scaled back or, at the very least, phased in more slowly.

“Jonathan Coleman knows health funding needs to keep pace with population growth, ageing, and cost increases.

"He also knows that if funding falls short, services suffer. Ultimately, of course, it is Kiwis who bear the brunt as staff numbers are cut, waiting times increase and the quality of care deteriorates,” Annette King says.