“New Zealand hospitals are on life support as documents show services have diminished to the point where people have died due to not being seen,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Minutes from a Te Whatu Ora Hawke’s Bay meeting in October paint a grim picture of the standards of healthcare available in New Zealand currently. Some of the excerpts state:

“Should have done 100 major middle ear cases by this time of the year, has done 7. As a result 2 patients have required neurosurgical intervention and 1 has died.”

“The general surgical service is essentially only doing cancer cases and acutes. There is no capacity for providing a service that returns people with for example hernias back to productive working life.”

“SMO’s have now met multiple times with various HDDHB Boards, CEO’s, COO’s, Director General of Health (x2), Minister of Health and local MPs, still our infrastructure remains the same. As a result we are seeing patient hurt, needless deaths, family harm, personal harm to the SMO’s wellbeing.”

“When did this become acceptable in New Zealand? The health system is slipping away from first world status and the Government seems uninterested in fixing it. Instead of prioritising bringing in staff from overseas or upgrading infrastructure it is wrapped up in a costly restructure.

“When I asked Health Minister why New Zealand is so far behind Australia in terms of our health workforce per capita he told me it was “impossible and unrealistic” to aspire towards Australia’s standards.

“This collapse in standards is part of a gradual decline in New Zealand’s prosperity. In recent years New Zealand has been training 40 per cent fewer medical professionals per capita than Australia.

“The vultures are circling as New Zealand loses its first world status. The Government of Victoria is aggressively advertising for nurses to cross the ditch, and with the higher pay available nurses will continue to leave.

“People like to think of New Zealand as a first world country but our income figures tell a different story. Until we have a government focussed on economic growth we will continue to see tragedies in our health system.

“As an immediate fix for staffing shortages ACT would provide all occupations on the ‘Green List’ a fast-track to residency by removing the ‘work to residence’ divide and simplify the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme by abolishing labour market tests, wage rules, and make it easier for migrants to move between accredited employers.

“In the long term the fix will take a change of direction for New Zealand. ACT’s Alternative Budget for Real Change shows a plan to arrest the decline and grow the economy. It would get the country back into surplus and allows New Zealanders to keep more of their income to invest.

“It will take real change to stop the decline from first world status and make our health system one New Zealanders can have faith in again.”

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Brooke van Velden