New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) is disappointed by the lack of priority given to health in Finance Minister Nicola Willis’ mini-Budget announcement this afternoon.
Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said the “self-praised” $7.5 billion saving could have gone towards solving the health crisis.
“This Government chose not to fund the frontline. At best, this Government is championing the status quo of an inequitable, underfunded, and understaffed health system.
“At worst, they are driving Aoteoroa’s health system off a fiscal cliff. They seem to be prioritising savings in taxes over the nation’s health.”
Ms Nuku said health workers were always asked to do more with less and to support more patients with less funding, to provide high-quality healthcare with less staff and to make do with less pay than they deserve.
“What is desperately needed are funding commitments that help our nurses, our midwives, our health care assistants, and our kaiāwhina do more with more.”
Ms Nuku said the finance minister announced $7.47 billion in reduced Government spending to fund tax cuts which will be announced in Budget 2024, and this equated to one-third of this year’s allocated Health budget.
“This Government campaigned on big talk of funding frontline health services, so why is this $7.47 billion failing to make its way to the frontline?”
The total Budget allocation for health services for 2022/23 was $24.638 billion, however, Te Whatu Ora’s recently published Annual Report shows actual spending was $26.703 billion. For the financial year 2022/23, Te Whatu Ora reported a net deficit of $1.013 billion.
“The current Government has only committed its spending in health to match inflation, for context, CPI was 5.6 percent in September 2023.
“This Government’s limited funding commitments for health services does not account for Te Whatu Ora’s existing 4.1 percent deficit due to cost escalation, nor the increasing health costs arising from changing demographics and population needs (for example ageing population or the rise in chronic health conditions), as well as expected cost increases from regular price inflation which is particularly high for clinical resources and medical equipment.”