National’s health report card gets an ‘F’ for funding

Persistent underfunding of the health system over the last nine years is having a severely negative impact on the quality and timeliness of services, and funding must urgently be restored by the next government if we are to avert the worst of an impending crisis, says the Public Service Association.

“Seeing National’s record on health collected in one place is quite sobering – it’s clear that underfunding is having dire consequences on both patients and staff, who are having to do more than ever with less,” says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary.

“The fact that 58,000 people were referred to specialists last year but didn’t get the treatment they needed is indicative of the fact that services cannot meet growing demand.”

“We have the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world, and 30,000 children are still being hospitalised every year due to poor quality housing – how can we possibly claim to be ‘heading in the right direction?’”

“After nine years, $2.3bn of underfunding is a pretty big hole in the health budget. Our members at DHBs and community health services are certainly aware of it – sometimes they feel like they’re falling in.”

“I’m particularly disappointed by the Minister of Health’s comments this morning, which clumsily papered over the cracks at Southern DHB and appeared to blame health workers and the ‘configuration of services’ for the absurd waiting times that some cancer patients are facing.”

“It’s disingenuous and totally beyond the pale to shift the blame of systematic underfunding by this Government to the workers, who are stressed, underpaid and under pressure.”

“The absolute priority for any incoming government must be a restoration of funding to health in the next budget – Labour and the Greens both say they will do so, and the PSA will be holding them to their promises if elected.”

“This is no longer a question of funding options or election promises or political philosophies – our health system is bursting at the seams, and whoever is elected must make it their first priority.”