You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Health system needs $1.1b boost: unions

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/05/2017

An extra $1.1 billion needs to be pumped into health services just to maintain existing standards of care, Kiwi doctors and nurses unions say.

The unions called on the government to include the increased funding in the next budget to be released on Thursday.

The $1.1b figure was calculated using data released by government departments, including Treasury, and takes into account population growth, inflation, wages and new initiatives, the unions said.

"An extra $1.1b in health funding will only maintain the status quo and won't help people already missing out," the coalition of unions coordinator Simon Oosterman said.

"It won't resolve the mental health crisis or help the increasing number of Kiwis who need surgery but can't get on a public waiting list."

Economist Bill Rosenberg from the Council of Trade Unions - which, together with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, released the report on Sunday - said $721 million was "needed just to keep pace with demographic growth and rising costs".

The extra $375 million was then needed to meet costs for new funding commitments promised by the government, he said.

Mr Rosenberg said anything less than the $1.1b increase would be a cut to the existing health budget and inevitably lead to services being cut.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation president Grant Brookes said nurses had been struggling to cope with cumulative funding shortfalls since 2008.

It had led tired and stressed nurses to do more with less and report that some services were deteriorating, he said.

This included elderly patients experiencing delays in getting their medicine, staff levels being cut to dangerously low levels, and near misses in critical areas like newborn intensive care.

"Chronic underfunding is now affecting the whole health system," he said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon