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Unified Health System An Opportunity To Invest In Undervalued Workers And Communities

The Public Service Association welcomes the Health and Disability System Review, which signals a shift of direction for the sector with benefits for health workers and the wider community.

The report released today calls for an end to the fragmentation that plagues New Zealand’s District Health Boards, urging their replacement with a more unified and coherent system.

The PSA is particularly pleased the report asks government to invest in more secure employment for the mostly female, often low paid and casualised workers who provide services such as community and home support to disabled, elderly and unwell people.

"Crucially important care and support is currently delivered by a workforce who are not provided with the training, equipment and support both they and their clients need," says Kerry Davies, National Secretary of the PSA.

"Health contracts must ensure all front line workers can plan their lives, progress their careers and expand their professional qualifications, and adequate funding must be allocated for this purpose. Improved overall funding and investment in a well trained, well paid health workforce will benefit everyone."

Noting the severe inequities in health and wellbeing that face Māori, the report is heavily focused on the goals of equity and Te Tiriti obligations and proposes the creation of a new Māori Health Authority.

"The PSA rūnanga will guide us in how to most effectively support addressing these inequities. Māori, Pasefika, disabled people, migrant workers and others have unique needs that require a tailored approach," says Ms Davies.

Simpson’s report notes the value of government, employers and trade unions working together in tripartite arrangements, and recognises that the experience and expertise of health workers is key to improving outcomes.

The PSA represents a variety of groups in the health sector, including home support workers, hospital administrators, mental health nurses and allied health professionals.

"The expert advisors and politicians steering this process must value the stories of those who receive and provide care," says Ms Davies.

"It will be critical to involve the PSA members who deliver health and disability services in the shaping of a new healthcare system."

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