New Zealand’s Most Needy Disadvantaged
Ministry of Health plans to strip $8 million funding from geriatric hospitals will impact on New Zealanders at the most vulnerable and needy time of their lives says Hunt Healthcare’s General Manager Jane Smart.
She says the Ministry’s “rob Peter to pay Paul” approach announced yesterday, reallocating the $8 million taken from geriatric homes to rest homes, makes absolutely no sense and will inevitably mean standards of care in geriatric hospitals will be reduced.
“People in geriatric hospitals are at the end of their lives – lives during which they paid taxes and contributed to the New Zealand we have today. Should we repay them by lowering the standard of our care for them?”
The funding reallocation will result in a national average bed price loss of three percent.
“This comes at a time when power costs are rising, the costs of basic items such as milk, butter and cheese are soaring, and the low US dollar exchange rate means much imported hospital equipment, incontinence products are much more expensive than in the past,” Ms Smart says.
She also criticises the model on which the funding was based.
“The funding of rest home and geriatric hospitals has not been revised for four years. So not only have we had no adjustments for the increase in cost of living in those four years, we’re now having to take an average three percent cut.”
When the adjustments are in force, hospital beds will range in price from $122 to $130 a night, depending on location.
“You pay more than that for a standard hotel room. For that figure we provide the accommodation plus 24-hour nursing care, three meals plus morning and afternoon teas, training and education programmes for staff, doctor’s visits, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, pharmaceutical costs, laundry, cleaners, maintenance staff and much more.”
Asked how Hunt Healthcare facilities would absorb the cut in funding she says, “To be honest, I don’t know”.
“We will have to look at all areas of care and see what cuts can be made with minimal impact on residents. These people are at the time of their lives when they need most care and are dependent on the system looking after them.”
Hunt Healthcare has no problems with rest homes receiving a boost in funding – “it is much-needed” Ms Smart says, “but not at the expense of geriatric hospitals”.
She issues a challenge to anyone who doubts the dedication of people working to provide a good quality of life for people in Hunt Healthcare’s geriatric hospitals to come and work in one for a week.