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Budget 2024 sees New Zealand’s health lights dimming

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the money set aside for health over the next four years in Budget 2024 is barely enough to keep the lights on.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says that’s neither clever nor good enough when our current health system is so thoroughly and obviously broken.

"What we have here is yet another Government perpetuating the problem of underinvestment and failure to plan for the future.

"Cost-pressure funding has not changed despite Te Whatu Ora telling the Government in 2023 that budgeted figures were insufficient."

Ms Nuku said the Government hasn’t even set aside enough to meet its own health targets around surgery wait times, cancer treatment, less time in ED etc.

"That means they’re going to have to make more cuts to health services elsewhere in order to meet those targets.

"And there’s virtually nothing about growing the health workforce, which is absolutely astonishing and irresponsible in terms of future planning. Does the Government seriously believe the nursing shortage crisis has been solved?"

Before the election Prime Minister Luxon promised that all nurses in New Zealand would be paid the same no matter where they worked, and Ms Nuku says that is essential to all health services being adequately staffed and available, not just the ones that pay more.

"But what we’re seeing in this Budget is a real walk-back on that promise with just a contingency fund that is completely inadequate to meet even the Pay Equity claims currently underway. Until we get Pay Equity sorted, the problem of overcrowded emergency departments will persist. People turn up in ED because they can’t get community care, and that’s because nursing staff have left for better pay."

Ms Nuku says that perhaps worst of all, funds set aside for Hauora Māori services are inadequate to meet projected Māori population growth.

"So again we’re failing to plan for the future to meet the cultural needs of Māori, perpetuating their disenfranchisement from health services. This will increase inequality and every New Zealander will pay for that in the long run.

"In summary, we have health targets we can’t afford, nothing about new health initiatives, nothing for increasing nurse numbers, a pittance for Pay Equity that would have solved  so many health problems, and Māori destined to be less well off than ever.

"This Budget may well keep the lights running, but the future of our health system remains worryingly dim."

Direct Media Enquiries To:

Please send all media requests in writing to media@nzno.org.nz.

NZNO communications and media advisors are:

Karen Howarth
karen.howarth@nzno.org.nz
027 725 2680  |  04 494 8242

Samesh Mohanlall
samesh.mohanlall@nzno.org.nz
021 240 3420  |  04 494 6839

Support and member enquiries: 0800 28 38 48 or nurses@nzno.org.nz