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Age-care sector “losing hope, but ready to fight”

“Desperate” residential age-care sector “losing hope, but ready to fight”

Waiting since yesterday morning to hear Associate Health Minister Pete Hodgson’s pre-budget scheduled announcement for additional funding above the normal DHB allocation for the residential aged care sector seems to be an exercise in futility.

“The recent pre budget announcement seems to indicate the government is not going to provide any extra funding for the increasingly desperate residential aged care sector that provides hospital care for elderly New Zealanders,” says NZ Nurse’s Organisation Policy Analyst Eileen Brown.

“We’ve been campaigning for adequate funding increases for a long time,” Brown says, “and are well past the point of continuing to submit to unacceptably low wages, ongoing loss of trained workers and increasingly poor working conditions.

Since then, Cabinet has had a comprehensive and supportive report from the Working Party on Support Services for Older People. A health select committee inquiry was made painfully aware of increasing problems in the residential aged care sector.

“The government knows the situation, but it appears to have again failed to listen and again failed to respond to the needs of underpaid, under resourced and unappreciated nurses and caregivers working in residential aged care hospitals,” said Brown.

Last month members of the Nurses Organisation and Service and Food Workers Union working in the sector took to the street up and down the country calling for fair pay. They received strong public support.

“This government has had every opportunity to rectify a serious funding deficiency in the residential aged care sector. “We have just about lost hope. And with that, the dedication and goodwill is also being lost. If the government won’t listen to reason, then it will have to listen to a major campaign of widespread industrial disruption,” says NZNO’s Eileen Brown


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