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Questions Remain over Labour’s Aged Care Promise

Press Release from HealthCare Providers NZ Inc

Questions Remain over Labour’s $13 million Aged Care Promise

Questions Remain over Labour’s $13 million Aged Care Promise

21 October 2008

New Zealand’s elderly are the winners out of both the National and Labour parties’ aged care election promises, but questions remain over Labour’s position.

HealthCare Providers said today that Labour’s commitment for $13 million, of which $8 million is new money, has not clearly spelt out what is meant by “workforce development”.

HealthCare Providers chief executive Martin Taylor said that while $4 million in a one-off funding arrangement has been tagged for workforce development, there has been no clear indication from Labour what this means for the 35,000 caregivers and 5000 nurses in the sector.

The other $4 million in one-off funding is to increase the skills of those in the workforce who are not at NZQA levels 2 and 3.

“We welcome this commitment to training as perhaps 50% of the sector is not at levels 2 and 3. This additional funding means about $235 per caregiver over a year, and depending on how it is passed on and the compliance issues attached, it’s certainly a good start,” Mr Taylor said.

“The remaining $5 million of the promised increase is cost neutral as the Minister is actually directing DHBs to pass on the money they withheld in July when they were given a 3.3% increase for aged-care inflation and only passed on 2.8%.

"We are surprised that the money has not already been passed on considering the sector only received a partial inflation adjustment of 2.8% in July despite inflation being 4%,” Mr Taylor added.

Of concern is Labour’s promise to implement staffing ratios, although the details on how this will be done and what they think the costs are has not been disclosed.

“More regulation such as mandated staffing levels is a backwards step – the 2003 staffing guidelines were never meant to be made mandatory because they are impractical. For example, if they were adopted today it would mean firing 2267 caregivers and replacing them with 1732 nurses and would cost anywhere between $60 million and $ᾱ18 million dollars, he said.

“We would also welcome the establishment of a Ministerial aged-care committee, but only if its mandate was to ensure there will be enough beds, caregivers and nurses in future, as opposed to just imposing more regulations.

”For the sector to be sustainable New Zealanders need strategic political leadership to address the looming crisis in aged care. Now with each of the two major parties commitments out in the open the public can determine which party is showing the most strategic leadership”, Mr Taylor said.


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