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Govt. fails to live up to its promise on aged-care

19 May, 2005

Government fails to live up to its promise
on aged-care funding

The Government has failed to honour the commitment made by Prime Minister, Helen Clark, in this year’s opening statement to Parliament to make aged-care funding a “top priority” this year, according to the country’s largest health sector union, NZNO.

Responding to the Budget announcement of additional funding to residential and home care for older people, NZNO spokesperson Laila Harré said nurses and caregivers would be “extremely disappointed with the dashing of their hopes yet again”.

Harré says that almost half of the $71 million promised this year would be needed to make up the funding shortfall that occurred when district health boards took over funding of aged-care services from the Ministry of Health last year.

“The rest of the money will be needed to cover inflation and the growth in demand for aged-care services. That leaves almost nothing for pay increases for nurses and caregivers and for the essential training and staffing needs acknowledged by the Government to improve quality in the sector. The chronic undervaluing of nurses and caregivers in residential aged-care facilities will continue, despite the acknowledgement by everyone that their pay is so low, in comparison to nurses and caregivers working in public hospitals, as to be insulting.”

Laila Harré said that NZNO’s expectations were raised with the Prime Minister’s promises earlier in the year and with the establishment of a working party to recommend sustainable funding.

“Every single person who has looked at this problem has come away appalled at the plight of caregivers who work for an average of $10.80 an hour doing a complex job and who earn little or nothing in extra pay to recognise formal qualifications or night and weekend hours of work.”

Laila Harré drew attention to her organisation’s strike in three aged-care sites operated by Qualcare in Christchurch today (Thursday, May 19). “These dedicated nurses and caregivers have been offered pay increases of less than one percent. Their boss and the Government need to account for that paltry offer. Unfortunately this Budget will do nothing to make their pay and working conditions any better.

Both the carers, and the cared for, will continue to suffer because the Government has failed to deliver any real funding increase to the aged-care sector in this Budget,” Laila Harré said.


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