Topics: BUDGET, Health

Māori Nurses want $2.3 bil returned to health budget

By Mānia Clarke

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is calling for $2.3 billion to be put back into health funding at this year's budget. Deputy kaiwhakahaere Titihuia Pakeho says figures released by the Council of Trade Unions shows a huge cumulative funding gap since 2009/2010, which has hindered basic care treatment of patients. 

For months nurses, midwives and other health staff have been telling the government to invest more in health.

"Health would be the biggest workforce within, just about everywhere.  Without the proper care for our patients it's going to be quite a dismal future for our whānau," said Pakeho.

According to a Working Paper released by the Council of Trade Unions, in last years Budget there was a deficit of $721 million spent on operational expenses. A $375 million deficit for initiatives and additional costs. CTU say analysis from 2009/10 show this years budget needs to increase by $2.3 billion to a total of $17.6 billion.

Pakeho says, "If it's affecting us, it's affecting our patients, cause we can't do the job that we're supposed to.  We come in and instead of being fully staffed, we're not really so we can't do what we want to do with our patients, so our patients are missing out really."

In March the NZNO launched their Shout Out for Health campaign and championed an open letter for the government to make health the priority.

"Our patients, they were speaking up about the impact on the care they were supposed to be getting that's not provided by us as nurses." says Pakeho

Health Minister Jonathon Coleman says this is traditional pre-budget positioning by unions and they'll have to wait until the budget announcement tomorrow.  Pakeho predicts the amount will be under par.