New Zealand Labour Party

New year, same old story for underfunded health

While the New Year often heralds resolutions to improve, the industrial strife currently wracking ambulance workers shows the Government has little interest in properly investing in the health sector, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson Annette King.

“The tense stand-off between ambulance staff and the St John organisation is evidence of growing industrial turmoil in the health sector caused by years of underfunding by the National Government.

“The St John workers are just the first example of the strife we can expect this year. There will be other health workers lining up in 2017 because they have not been adequately funded for six years and it’s really starting to bite.

“Because wages make up around 70 per cent of costs in the health sector, health service providers are forced to make savings by making Kiwis work harder, for longer hours, and for lower overall compensation.

“Twenty-sixteen was a horror year for health and there’s little evidence this year will be any better despite the looming election. Throwing out a lolly scramble in May’s budget isn’t going to fool anybody. This Government’s track record has been to cut and to deny adequate funding to cover the costs in health.

“Junior doctors are threatening to go on strike, while senior doctors are asking to be properly recompensed to support them picking up the load when our junior doctors aren’t working.

“Our health workers are suffering, and kiwis who need services are at risk. In 2016 we faced evidence of Government underfunding leading to people going blind, old people having their home-help – which enables them to remain independent – being slashed, and people are simply waiting too long in pain and disability for much needed operations

“Now’s the time to ask, what New Year resolutions will the government make toward health? Will they ensure that our health workforce is properly supported? How will they address the growing industrial turmoil in the health sector?

“The fact is that Kiwis are not getting the healthcare they need because National has cut $1.7 billion from health funding since 2010. A Labour government will invest in health, including funding homecare, breakthrough life-saving cancer medicines and mental health services.”