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Patients Ought Not To Pay For Public Health

Needy Do Not Make It To Hospital And Charges Are To Be Imposed

The Porirua Council urgently needs to represent the needs of patients in the ongoing battles with the Health Board.

I have asked Mayor Jenny Brash to call a special meeting of the council and to coordinate the community groups that oppose recent decisions and plans.

The Mayor should invite Maori and Pacific Island MPs to speak at the council meeting. We should work with them in addressing the immediate needs of Porirua people.

It is time the Mayor showed some leadership.

Only the Council has the facilities to prepare the case and deliver it with sufficient force to make a difference.

Both the Government and the Board need to be told that the Board's performance is unacceptable.

There are two issues: the new charges at Kenepuru and the Board's response to the recent research on access to hospital services.

The pathetic response of the Board to new research that tells us Maori and Pacific Island people, particularly children, are not getting the treatment they need, deserves a strong response.

We have known about the Health needs of Porirua people for 50 years.

How can the news that Porirua people do not access pediatric services be a surprise when the pediatric ward was closed at Kenepuru?

How can a spokesperson say "institutional racism" might be a significant factor in the failure of many to get hospital treatment, when we all know it is the cost of travel and and the remoteness of Newtown?

The Board hides its incompetent decisions behind the screen of institutional racism. This is but a clever way to blame the Pacific communities. It lets the Board off the hook.

Every Pacific Island member of the Porirua City Council that I have known over the last 12 years has said hospital services need to be at Kenepuru so that Pacific Island people can access them.

There is no doubt about what is needed. Only the Health Board insists they know better.

When the Board was offered $300 million by the Government to develop hospital services they chose to build again at Newtown.

Their strategy is to make the hospital remote and rely on general practitioners and nurses in the community. If this was going to work, it would have worked some time in the last 50 years.

For the strategy to work we need more GPs. There is no prospect at the moment of an influx of doctors into Porirua.

How can a Board spokesperson say they were surprised that Porirua residents were not accessing specialists at Newtown to the extent they should? How could the Board say they are surprised Kapiti residents are not accessing orthopedic and eye specialists. These things have been in earlier reports, medical people in the field say these things, and they are rather obvious to anyone with common sense.

I was frankly relieved to learn that the Board was on the Government's watch list. They need to be accountable to someone, for they are not accountable to the community.

I would urge the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, to take a personal interest in this. I hope Tariana Turia also sees that this is an issue for Maori and takes a stand.

But, more than that, we need to find better ways of doing things.

The first step would be to give the Pacific Island communities the opportunity to dispel the myth that institutional racism stops them going to hospital.

Like the rest of us, they do not make it to hospital because it is remote and difficult to access. In their case for historical reasons their needs are greater and they appear in the statistics.

But the white elderly of Waikanae have exactly the same problem with the Health Board as that shown by the Porirua's Pacific Island communities.


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