Friday, August 06, 2010

Back to the 90's

As if public service cuts, mass-unemployment and beneficiary-bashing weren't enough, we now have another sign National has taken us back to the 90's: the CEO of Capital & Coast DHB resigning because they can't cut any more:

[I]n an email to staff explaining his reasons for leaving his $430,000-a-year job, [Whelan] said there was no more room to cut the district health board's costs, despite Government pressure to do so. "I cannot see where any more major efficiency can come from without negatively impacting on services."

Board members, including chairman Sir John Anderson, backed his statements, saying any further savings would "cut into muscle".

So much for Tony Ryall's repeated claim that there are no health cuts. This is a DHB which has come under horrific financial pressure by National to cut, cut, and cut, and can do so no longer. And they're not going to be the only one. My local DHB is so desperate it is looking for corporate sponsorship to meet its government-imposed budget shortfall. Others are shutting down services. But in the end, they're all going to end up in the same place as Wellington, where underfunding and cuts begin to impact healthcare standards. Assuming they haven't already.

Meanwhile, Ryall pretends none of this is happening. Practically every day in Parliament he is asked about the latest cuts horror story, and he washes his hands of them, dismissing them as "changes" and saying spending "priorities" are the responsibility of the DHB. This ignores the fact that their budgets are dictated to them by the government, which by giving them a sub-inflation increase (and much of it targeted towards meeting Ryall's preferred metrics so he can juke his stats) has effectively delivered them a whopping cut. National is running our public health system into the ground - just like it did in the 90's.