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Where Are Taxpayer Dollars Going in Aged Care?

Where Are Taxpayer Dollars Going in Aged Care?

Today’s Judicial Review of DHB contracts with privatised Aged Care providers is a shameful attack on the Government’s attempts to bring accountability and transparency to the sector.

Healthcare Providers New Zealand (HCPNZ) have entered the most expensive phase of their campaign to undermine the Government’s work to see mechanisms put in place that ensure New Zealand taxpayers’ money is actually used to improve the quality of care delivered to older kiwis and not simply siphoned off to swell the already bulging bank balances of foreign owned private equity corporations.

When former Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced additional funding for the Aged Care sector in May this year, he made it clear that the funding was to be used to improve the chronic low wages. The DHBs responded by including the requirement for a minimum wage of $12.55 / hr for vulnerable workers – caregivers, laundry, cleaning and kitchen staff – and a minimum pay increase of $1.00 / hr for those workers.

This provided a clear and transparent mechanism to demonstrate that the objective of the increased funding was met.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation and Service and Food Workers Union: Nga Ringa Tota are also engaging with employers to deliver collective employment agreements for our members. Collective agreements provide further transparency and accountability. The wages and conditions agreed in those documents demonstrate clearly the providers’ level of willingness to pass funding on to their workers.

NZNO Organising Services Manager Cee Payne-Harker says it is clear the providers behind today’s legal action are looking to shirk their responsibilities as providers of publicly funded healthcare. “The openness and honesty Martin Taylor of HCPNZ seems to think is missing from DHBs is sorely lacking in their own argument. Definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black,” Cee Payne-Harker says.

Martin Taylor claims not to be aware of any provider not prepared to pass on funding. Workers, however, are acutely aware. Here are a few examples:

  • Home of Compassion, Wanganui

  • Anglican Aged Care, Christchurch: Offering only 44-65 cent increases

  • Olive Tree Apartments, Palmerston North

  • Somerville Cottage, Dunedin

“NZNO and SFWU have completed negotiations with several employers who have not only passed on the funding but dug into their own pockets to ensure the best staff are retained in the sector. Why HCPNZ are going on with this action is beyond us. They have to understand that with public funding comes the responsibility to demonstrate they will use that money in the public’s best interest,” Cee Payne-Harker concludes.

ENDS

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