Opinion: National’s broken health promises

Taieri MP Ingrid Leary out and about in Mosgiel to hear about constituents’ concerns. PHOTO:...
Taieri MP Ingrid Leary out and about in Mosgiel to hear about constituents’ concerns. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Health comes up as the number one issue when door-knocking and talking to constituents in South Dunedin and Mosgiel.

New Zealanders need and deserve a strong public health system.

Here in Otago and throughout the country, we need to ensure hospitals, clinics and community providers have the resources needed to provide the best level of care.

Rather than prioritising this in Budget ’24, the government has decided to allocate barely enough healthcare funding to keep the lights on.

You will pay more to visit a doctor because the funding the government gives to GPs is not keeping up with inflation.

Medicines will also be more expensive because the government has scaled back Labour’s free prescription initiative.

National’s Budget is full of broken health promises.

As well as leaving cancer patients anxiously waiting to find out about treatment funding, National has backtracked on a raft of other campaign promises.

They’ve dialled back their commitment to increase medical school placements by 50, providing little for our stretched workforce.

National also promised to deliver a new medical school, but this went unfunded.

National promised pay parity for nurses, and to support nurses and midwives with student loan repayments, but this is now up in the air.

They promised to increase the number of doctors specialising in psychiatry, and double the number of trainee psychologists, but have no plan to achieve this.

Back-office roles are being cut, meaning clinicians have less time to care for patients because they’re doing admin.

Some frontline vacancies are going unfilled or are being disestablished.

The New Zealand Nurse’s Organisation is concerned that the full number of nursing students won’t be recruited to public hospitals this year, meaning locally trained nurses will be forced to seek opportunities overseas.

This will pile pressure on to already stretched healthcare workers and increase wait times.

Fixing our health system is a complex job, but National chooses to ignore good scientific advice about how to do it, whether it’s repealing our world-leading anti-smoking laws, making school lunches less nutritious, or disestablishing Te Aka Whai Ora — our Māori Health Authority — which was improving health outcomes for Māori.

In government, Labour delivered historic increases in pay for nurses and made both doctor’s visits and prescriptions more affordable.

Labour also doubled minimum sick leave to protect workers and businesses and boosted funding for ambulances and paramedics.

The government needs to commit to real solutions and meaningful investment in our healthcare system and its workers.

When it comes to their health and wellbeing, New Zealanders deserve world-class care, not more broken promises.