The Pukekohe Town square was filled with 200 life sized cutouts last week to highlight missing health workers due to underfunding.
The YesWeCare.nz, a community and health workforce coalition, is travelling the country, talking to communities about the impacts of national underfunding and unmet needs in the health sector.
After a recent survey of 6000 health workers, YesWeCare.nz found nine out of ten people working in health say they don’t have enough staff or resources to give New Zealanders the healthcare they need, when they need it. The Post was able to talk to representatives from two local groups, Plunket and Counties Manukau Midwives and share their stories.
Plunket Nurse, Angela Collie says the underfunding not only affects their staff, but it affects their families as well.
“You know, Franklin is a growing community and there are a lot of young families coming through. We are expected to stretch the funding that we do get to more areas, hence why we have closed a lot of our services.”
One of those services that Plunket has closed is the car seat services.
“We have also seen a lack of funding to get nurses to come into Plunket. If we had enough nurses, or if nurses coming on board were paid enough and staying, we would be able to spend more time with families, and actually give them what they are wanting. Community based nursing is about meeting the needs of what the family wants, not so much about what Plunket thinks they need.”
“A lot of the services out here are limited and you do have to travel quite a way, and some do not have the means or the transport to get to them.”
“We have gone from having funding collection points in each Plunket area, to now having just one, so you have lost all your little volunteers that used to go do the collection for all the different areas. Plunket’s face has changed a great deal due to the lack of funding.”
Leads Maternity Caregiver, Claire Eyes, says Counties Manukau Midwives are also under extreme stress from the lack of staff and the long hours they are working.
“The biggest problem is that the government removed midwives off the list of professionals required for the nation about five years ago, as they seem to think that there are enough in the country to cover the need. But what they aren’t looking at is the fact that they are required in the high need areas, such as South Auckland, and they just aren’t there. This area has become unaffordable to live in, and we are losing core staff as they move south.”
Claire says she backs what chief executive for the College of Midwives, Karen Gilliland, said last week, that medical procedures such as caesarean sections have to take priority and the shortage meant prioritising daily support tasks. As a result, one the key tasks of supporting a mother after birth, have fallen away.
“We are under significant stress and pulling long hours, often for no pay, but we just have to get on with it. That is just what we do. But how long for? Many cannot cope and something has to be done about this chronic situation.”
YesWeCare.nz campaign co-ordinator, Simon Oosterman, says he has had an overwhelming response from the survey and the national roadshow, which shows current measures of unmet need are flawed and need review.
“The government doesn’t include the one in nine Kiwis who can’t afford to visit GPs, or the patients who aren’t referred to hospital because GPs know they won’t be accepted for treatment.”
The Public Service Association backs the call for an independent survey to accurately measure the size and nature of unmet health need. Patients and people working in health can share stories about unmet need and underfunding on the organisations website at: www.yeswecare.nz/share-your-story
Plunket Nurse, Angela Collie, stands by the 200 life size cutouts that filled the town square last week to highlight missing health workers due to underfunding.