Monday, May 29, 2017

National's stealth health cut

Whenever they're criticised about the state of the public health system, National trots out the spin that they're spending more than ever before. Which is true, but the problem is that they're not spending enough to keep up:

Just over a year ago the health sector went cap in hand asking for funding to deal with rising immigration - but the Government shortchanged them to the tune of quarter of a billion dollars.

The shortfall is revealed in a briefing from the Ministry of Health to the Health Minister, which says to deal with immigration, as well as wage and cost increases, it needed an extra $644.8 million.


"DHBs face significant pressure in Budget 2016, due to the additional impact of net migration on population growth and aging, and anticipated wage pressure," it said.

It calculated a $379 million need for population pressure, $190.5 million to cope with wage increases, and $75.3 million to fund rising costs. All up - $644.8 million.

But in Budget 2016, they were given $400 million - a more than $250 million shortfall.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman's reason? The $644 million figure was a "wish-list". Bullshit. It was vital just to sustain basic services at the level we already had. And by not providing that money, Coleman forced DHB's to cut services and screw down pay and conditions to make ends meet.

Naturally, the government then tried to keep this secret - had to go to the Ombudsman to extract this information, and it took them a year. This year, they may have made some of that money up; OTOH, they seem to have done it by shortchanging future years so they can get a higher election-year figure. Because with National, its all about the spin. Outcomes are irrelevant.