Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Luxon: Healthcare going backwards under Labour

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A patient died after leaving Middlemore Emergency Department due to the long wait times. Times file photo Wayne Martin
  • By Christopher Luxon, National Party leader and MP for Botany

It’s never a good sign when stories about healthcare are frequently leading the news.

Unfortunately, you might have noticed a significant uptick in recent months.

That’s because every health outcome is going backwards under this Labour Government, and it’s only worsening.

The health workforce is at breaking point with a shortage of around 4000 nurses.

Nearly 30,000 people are sitting on a ‘wait-list’ for surgery and we are seeing stories about people waiting outside hospitals in leaking tents.

These trends are beyond concerning – they are terrifying.

These are sick Kiwis that can’t even get timely treatment during some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives.

The latest revelation is that thousands of Kiwis are leaving Emergency Departments without treatment simply because the wait times are too long.

Data for May this year shows that more than 4000 New Zealanders did precisely this.

For a country that purports to be ‘first world’, more than 540 Kiwis had to wait more than 24 hours in the emergency department during the month of June.

That is a 182 per cent increase compared to April when 191 people waited more than 24 hours.

These are alarming declines in outcomes. Especially following the tragic reporting of a patient who died after leaving Middlemore Emergency Department due to the long wait times. How long until this is repeated?

The consequence of the closure of our local after hour services, East Care, means more pressure on an already-stressed Middlemore Hospital.

Let’s be quite clear – New Zealand’s healthcare system is in crisis. The only person who refuses to acknowledge this is the Health Minister, Andrew Little.

Despite the worsening statistics and his entire workforce yelling at him, he continues to bury his head in the sand.

That’s because the Minister is distracted by his ideologically-driven desire to restructure the health bureaucracy.

Labour has wasted billions of dollars of health funding on their reforms during a pandemic and when hospitals and frontline services are most in need of additional support – like East Care.

New Zealanders deserve better than this. Parents should be able to get their children to the doctor promptly.

Patients should not have to spend all day and night in Emergency Departments and should have easy access to specialists and scans.

A solution to part of this problem is simple and could be done by next week. Minister Little should go to Cabinet and demand that nurses are put on the fast track to residency pathway.

This would quickly start alleviating some of the pressure our hospitals, aged care and emergency departments feel by supporting with critical shortages.

Australia already offers the certainty of immediate residency. Therefore, why would they choose New Zealand if they need to wait two years before they are even eligible to apply?

Nurses get it, hospitals get it, the public gets it, and even Health New Zealand gets it.

The only people in the country who don’t seem to understand how urgently we need to bring more nurses in are this arrogant and out-of-touch Labour Government.

Minister Little is failing at his core responsibility of ensuring the sick and injured are being seen in a timely manner, and New Zealanders are now paying the price.

National will focus on outcomes and services, not systems and bureaucracy.

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