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Front-line workers say public health on the up

Front-line workers say public health system on the up

Front-line health workers are disputing the results of a new Fairfax-ACNeilsen opinion poll about the state of health services, saying the quality and availability of care has demonstrably improved since 1999.

The Public Service Association (PSA) represents more than 16,000 workers in the health sector, including mental and public heath nurses, allied health professionals (including social workers, dental therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and pharmacists), technical and support staff and clerical and administrative workers.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says the large increases in government expenditure invested in health are having a big impact across New Zealand.

“Public health services are unquestionably in a better shape today than they were at the end of the 1990s.

“The cash registers have come out of public hospitals and public health campaigns are stopping disease from spreading.

“Improving health status is closely linked to other social policies such as housing, employment and poverty reduction. Policies like income related rents for state house tenants, job creation and better access to education are addressing the long term social deficit built up during the 1990s which created the breeding ground for disease and ill-health.

“Real improvements to pay for health workers are now possible compared with the pay cuts they experienced during the 1990s.

“Health is a vital, but little heard, issue in this election campaign.

“It is such a large and growing part of the government’s annual budget that it must be at risk from National’s tax cuts. It’s not credible to claim health spending will be untouched by John Key’s proposed razor gang since few other areas of government spending will generate any significant savings to put towards the cost of cutting taxes.

“Workers on the front line of the health system are asking voters to think about cheaper prescriptions, meningoccocal vaccinations, shortened waiting times for surgery, modern school dental clinics and the many other improvements to the health system when they cast their vote this election.

“Going back to the 1990s is not a healthy alternative,” Richard Wagstaff said.


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