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Budget overlooks the “forgotten” health sector

Budget overlooks the “forgotten” health sector

The country’s biggest provider of home and community care says the budget has little or no provision for this forgotten arm of the health sector.

Healthcare of New Zealand Holdings Limited (HHL) employs 7,500 providing care for some 18,000 people and Chief Executive Jaimes Wood says they are vital to reliving pressure on a health system facing increasing demand.

“Health funding will go up by $2.2 billion dollars over the next four years, but on first reading there seems to be little detail in the budget for those supporting people in the community and we’ve had no indication of any funding relief.

“Virtually all of our contracts are government funded yet 60 per cent of our people are on the minimum wage and are going backwards in real terms.

“The health sector has a history of not passing on increases to carers who provide these services and our people often feel like they’ve been forgotten,” says Mr Wood.
“If the aim is to keep people in their homes and reduce the pressure on hospitals, then increasing the funding for support services provides a very good return on investment.

Mr Wood says there is always funding pressure on health, but home and community service providers have effectively been subsidising other health areas and something will have to give.

“The increasing focus on primary care needs a service sector that can attract and retain skilled professionals, we can’t do that of a platform of minimum wages that is burning.

“Looking after people in their homes is better for them and a lot cheaper than treating acute conditions in hospital. Health spending needs to reflect the value the sector adds,” says Mr Wood.


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