Cuts by stealth in the Health Sector

New Zealanders are right to wonder when this government’s stream of cuts by stealth in the health sector will come to a halt.

There have been cuts for the young and old; for people with rare diseases; those suffering mental health issues; and cuts for New Zealanders needing cochlear ear implants. All this is in spite of the Government borrowing more ($17 billion more than National), taxing more and spending more.

They have the money but they are just prioritizing billions in bad spending on diplomats, free tertiary education and keeping New Zealand First happy. And you have to ask how many more of these health cuts will there be?

In the last month, we heard that a universally supported pilot to improve the response of 111 mental health calls had been scrapped for the sake of just $8 million.

Before the election Labour campaigned heavily on mental health but now it has put the mental health needs of New Zealanders on the backburner while they hold an enquiry. They’ve axed the National-led Government’s $100 million mental health package which had 17 initiatives developed alongside mental health experts which would have delivered more mental health support to New Zealanders in need now.

This again shows just how vague the coalition government’s plan is around the health sector and how quick they have been to backtrack on election promises. In spite of claiming there was a health crisis while in Opposition, Labour spent less on health in this year’s budget than National spent in last year’s. They pledged a $774 million after our National-led government added $888 million in new funding in 2017, and the $10 cheaper GP fees visit for all New Zealanders was missing.

They’ve also dropped the National Health Targets, meaning the public won’t be able to track how their DHB”s are performing. Hundreds of lives were saved by having these targets in place.

The nurses’ strike – the first in 30 years – also had significant implications for patients of our national health system.

Elective surgeries were cancelled, in clud9ing cardiac surgery, surgeries for cancer and joint replacements. Now there is concern that further disruptive strikes are looming. The Government raised expectations among nurses and it’s failed to meet them and its lost control of the situation. Then the Health Minister went on holiday!

The Government has also broken its election promise to establish a fund to pay for drugs for treatments for people with rare diseases.

For a Government that claims to care, the decision to cut extra funding for cochlear implants is one of the cruelest, after National last year boosted the number of funded cochlear implants for adults, having previously speeded up access to implants for children/

It is clear the Government is making a mess in health. New Zealanders are paying the price. In Government National spent more money every year in health, in spite of dealing with the GFC and Christchurch earthquakes. It will remain a priority under my leadership. We will have new plans and policies ready for the 2010 election to show New Zealanders we will continue to put their needs first

Looking for feedback and policy ideas: The Hon Maggie Barry

If there is a silver lining of being in opposition, it’s now that we have an opportunity to take stock of our current policies, consult widely to figure out what is working best, and decide on policies that we will campaign on in the next election and then implement in government in 2010.

We’re fortunate to be living longer and healthier lives, but we need to make sure we plan ahead. That means ensuring access to healthcare and dental care so that we are equipped to deal with the increase in conditions relating to older age, such a dementia and strokes.

We have to make sure that seniors are able to access affordable high quality housing. We have to make sure that loneliness and isolation are replaced by social connections and active, healthy lifestyles. We have to tackle ageism, elder abuse and mistreatment of seniors in residential care to achieve the goal of an age-friendly New Zealand.

National’s strength comes from our members, and along with the Young Nats, the SuperBlues in particular provide crucial support to the Party. SuperBlues members are the heart of engaging older New Zealanders to support the party, so your input is highly valued. As the caucus representative I’d like to invite you to send through policy ideas and feedback on the issues that matter to you.

Lee Mathias Reports: Northern gearing up for 2020

SuperBlues Northern Region is re-organising in accord with the region’s division of electorates into eight pods. Five coordinators have so far been appointed to ensure good activity levels. Collaboration with neighbouring electorates is encouraged, if necessary, to keep up activities. The aims are: Increasing membership; establishing a data-base for each pod indicating what SuperBlues are interested in and how they wish to help; and determining what training and experience might be required in readiness for Election 2020.

Pakuranga and Botany are setting a standard for other electorates. Their model of operation is securing strong attendances at functions, including one that featured Party Leader Simon Bridges, and obtaining new members. Maungakieie has held a number of Seniors’ meetings. Northern is hosting the National conference this year and a special SuperBlues lunch and meeting is likely to be a significant drawcard for Seniors and party members during the weekend.

SuperBlues Chair defines SuperBlues

Our members are National Party members and supporters who meet socially with like-minded people, says Chair Colleen Singleton. We meet regularly within an electorate or group of electorates; enjoy friendship and have fun; keep up-to-date with political views; hear from and discuss our views with National MPs; participate in policy forums and policy development; and support electorate activities, including scrutineering and getting people out to vote. This is our time of opportunity to develop new policy prior to the next election. A “ginger group” has formed in Wellington to spark policy debate, There’s no shortage of topics from social to education; health to climate change. Seniors have valuable experience in these areas. Colleen wants SuperBlues to tap into them.

Progressive action: Regions report good activity levels in electorates from Gore and Invercargill in the South, across Canterbury, Westland and Nelson/Marlborough; while in LNI Rimutaka, Hutt, Kapiti and Wanganui and socially active. CNI is “humming:” in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.


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