The President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) wants people living in Aotearoa New Zealand to vote with health in mind on Saturday.
Anne Daniels, herself an emergency department nurse at Dunedin Hospital, said health should be just as important a consideration for voters this election as the cost of living and crime.
“Health has become somewhat of a “wicked problem” in Aotearoa New Zealand because the harms are rife and there is no short-term solution.
“We need to be voting people into power now who will set the groundwork for finding 4000 more nurses in a hurry, who will reduce costs and restore health justice by finding and employing more Māori and Pasifika nurses and who have the foresight to see that funding health properly now will save the system money and resources in the long run.”
Ms Daniels said she sees the results of underfunding and the under-prioritisation of health every day in her work and in her interactions around the country with nurse and other health worker members.
“People need to realise that the long wait times and the care rationing that are currently happening will just get worse and worse. This has serious implications for everyone needing health care.”
She said nurses know what’s needed to fix the problem: more nurses; pay and conditions that attract and retain nursing staff; nurse-to-patient ratios; and culturally appropriate care for Māori and Pasifika.
“Unfortunately some political parties don’t have a real grasp of these things and do not have policies that will address them.
“Parties proposing tax cuts or the dismantling of Te Aka Whai Ora (the Māori Health Authority), for example, don’t get it at all.
“These things would only create further barriers to people already struggling to access health care in their communities or who have to suffer long unhealthy waits in the emergency department.
“Health is a massive issue this election and I hope people will have that in mind when they choose which party and candidate to back on 14 October.”