4 March 2013: The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is concerned that Government health targets plus demands to cut millions of dollars from their budgets is forcing DHBs to narrow their focus and sideline health equity for the populations they serve.
The evidence this is happening is in a report by Professor Don Matheson, who, after analysis of 60 documents from Capital and Coast District Health Board released under the Official Information Act, shows that the DHB cut a third of the primary health budget under its control without proper analysis of the effects these cuts would have on health equity.
Chair of the NZ College of Primary Health Care Nurses and nurse practitioner, Rosemary Minto says, “We are hearing of funding cuts being made to services that provide comprehensive primary (community) health care to refugees, people experiencing mental illness, and high Maori and Pacific populations. It has been hard to understand why DHBs are cutting funding to the communities who need them the most; Prof Matheson’s report answers the question.”
“DHBs are no longer ‘walking the talk’ on health equity and prioritising primary health because they are being forced to focus on extremely narrow health targets with shrinking budgets. Health equity and primary health fall off the list of priorities and become ‘easy’ to cut.”
“The results of cutting health care to the people who need it the most is damaging for individuals and communities,and increases costs in the health system. When people can’t access or can’t afford the health care they need, when they need it, they end up in hospital emergency rooms, sicker and requiring more care,” Minto says.
The 2012 New Zealand Health Survey shows that nearly a million New Zealanders experienced unmet need for primary health care in the last 12 months, with the highest level experienced by Maori women where almost half had unmet primary health care needs.
“Narrow health targets and funding cuts are not the way to create a healthy population. A focus on effective primary health and making sure every New Zealander can access health care when they need it is the answer,” Rosemary Minto says.