Release: Job losses at Health not worth it for tax cuts

New Zealand will feel the harm of the National Government’s reckless cuts to jobs at the health ministry for generations, says Ayesha Verrall.

“Today we learned 134 crucial positions are set to be disestablished at the Ministry of Health, including in regulation, monitoring, suicide prevention, and science and evidence.

“At the Government’s request, the Ministry of Health has proposed the closure of the Suicide Prevention Office, which is responsible for New Zealand’s Suicide Action Plan, and has seen suicide rates reduced for the last three years.

“For a Government that made a song and dance about establishing a Minister for Mental Health, I am concerned we are going backwards to a time before the recommendation of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction recommendation to strengthen and unify roles in this important area,

“The Ministry of Health is proposing nearly 1 in 5 jobs are cut – a scale which will mean New Zealanders get less out of their government and the services that it provides.

“These are not simply back office roles, they are roles that include regulation and monitoring of the health system. When our health regulatory system fails, people get hurt, like they were with surgical mesh.

“Monitoring roles support the Minister of Health in overseeing $26 billion in health expenditure. If Te Whatu Ora’s performance fails to improve, cuts in this area may well be why.

“Last week Minister of Public Services Nicola Willis was unable to describe any steps she had taken to assure her that cuts at the Ministry of Health would not compromise New Zealand’s ability to respond to public health threats.

“My thoughts go out to public servants at all the affected Ministries, who today will be incredibly apprehensive about their situation. I want to make it clear that Labour appreciates their service to their country, particularly those who protected people’s health and incomes during the pandemic.

“These hard-working people do not deserve to bear the brunt of Nicola Willis’ reckless fiscal promises. Her tax cuts are not worth losing the very people who help prevent suicide in this country, our smokefree legislation that would save lives and our pandemic preparedness,” Ayesha Verrall said.

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