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Tax cuts have Nat'l health policy running on empty

6 September 2005

Tax cuts have National health policy running on empty

National's health policy falls well short of what is needed to maintain current services and deliver improvements in staffing and quality, says the NZ Nurses Organisation.

"National has clearly signaled that it will not guarantee Labour's level of health funding beyond this financial year. That is a cut" said NZNO spokesperson Laila Harré.

Laila Harré said NZNO was measuring all party policies against its own commitments to high quality, well staffed public health services that value both their staff and their clients.

She said that in the three main health areas - hospitals, aged care and primary health National was "way short of the mark".

Laila Harré said there would be serious doubts about whether National could fulfil its $100 million elective surgery promise, given current capacity.

"What is needed is a genuine commitment to workforce planning, not a three-year binge and then the money's dried up," she said.

Laila Harré said the $35 million extra promised to residential aged care was most likely to end up in the profits of corporate providers, and would do little to address the terrible low pay of nurses and caregivers.

"The promise is less than a tenth of the $500 million needed to pay nurses and caregivers in this sector on a par with public hospital staff," she said.

"Added to National's promise to bring back the Employment Contracts Act there is no assurance that new money will flow through to workers. The only way to do that is with collective bargaining."

National is also promising to cut primary health subsidies and bring back the Community Services Card for low income adults between 25 and 65.

"This is a great step backwards. Anyone the National Party deems rich will have to pay top dollar to visit the doctor and we know about a third of people eligible for a card won't apply and will avoid early treatment because of the cost. In the end that costs everyone more."

"NZNO members are looking for a long term commitment to fund pay parity in primary health and aged care and increased staffing levels throughout the health sector," she said.

ENDS

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