Wednesday, 5 August 2009


i've had a couple of extremely busy days, so no energy for posting. every time i feel that i'm getting on top of things, something unexpected turns up and i'm way behind again! that's life i suppose, and since everyone is happy and healthy, not much to complain about.

i was listening to hon winnie laban in the house today talking about the cuts to home help for senior citizens covered by otago and southland DHBs. with the result that these people will no longer be able to stay in their own home, and will have to go into residential care. this is detrimental in terms of their physical health, but it is also a much more expensive option. the only ones to benefit from this are residential care providers, who get the benefits of increased demand & hence increased profits.

here are a list of cuts to health services that have happened in the last eight months, some of which are:

• Mid-Central DHB to cut $10 million from budget. General Manager for Corporate Services Stuart Wilson confirmed the DHB would carry out a line by line review and reduce the standard of services provided to patients to produce cuts of that nature. The DHB is also predicting job losses

• Southland and Otago DHBs have confirmed they are cutting home support services to reduce costs. The Boards were looking to make savings of up to $10 million by reducing home support services for elderly.

• Whanganui DHB has said it will be closing hospital wards on weekends to save money on nursing overtime.

• South Canterbury DHB has said it will be reducing the amount of patients seen in its Emergency Department by up to 5000 people a year.

• SCDHB has also signalled that it is looking to reduce the number of patients using radiology services. The DHB also confirmed on Friday that it would be axing up to 200 elective operations per year because of a cut in Government funding.

• The Fruit in Schools programme which currently provides 100,000 children with fresh fruit each day is under threat.

• Post budget Treasury documents show that primary health and health promotion services that target specific health conditions have had funding cuts of $37 million this year.

• National have taken $2.3 million out of cancer control, slashed the diabetes ‘let’s get checked’ budget by $4.8 million, and cut $3 million from the cardiovascular disease budget. Mental Health services have also had their funding cut.

this is supposed to be the "fat" in the health budget? the unproductive spending? the slashing of "bureaucracy"? i look at each of these, and all i can think are that the long term costs are going to be so much more than the very short-term financial benefits in terms of a balanced government budget.

in the meantime, GPs get a funding increase of 6.5%. would be nice to have the minimum increased by that percentage. but it seems the recession doesn't have to affect everybody, especially not those with already decent incomes who apparently deserve more of our tax dollars.

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