Late again

Funding for more ICU beds is welcome but late:

The Government is going to pump $644million dollars into ICU capacity and operational costs.

But health experts and opposition parties say while the money is welcome, it is going to take time to build capacity and train staff.

New Zealand currently has one of the lowest ICU bed per capita in the OECD.

Health Minister Andrew Little says the health system has coped remarkably well with the recent outbreak, but things could soon change.

“With the traffic light system, Covid is going to move around the country. We needed to know we’ve got…doing everything we can to maximise ICU capacity.”

Why has it taken so long for the government to work this out and do something about it?

Why is the government incapable of learning from what’s happened overseas and its own mistakes?

Just like the vaccine strollout, the government has been late and lax, and has misplaced its focus:

National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti said given the time pressure the Government need an implementation plan and quickly.

He said the Government also needed to look at where there is most likely to be an outbreak and where ICU capacity is marginal- such as Tairāwhiti, Lakes, Whanganui and Northland.

“I would chose those areas because when you’ve got a small number of ICU beds like that it wouldn’t take much of ordinary business as usual to take one of those beds- you know, the non-coronavirus stuff that’s giving us that 70 to 80 percent occupancy rates already and then suddenly your ICU capacity is significantly reduced,” he said.

But overall he said this could have all been avoided earlier in the year, by repurposing of the money being used for the health restructure.

“A portion of that money would have more than doubled our ICU capacity and now here we are at the end of the year having this epiphany. I think we could have made these decisions earlier and better use of health funding,” he said. 

Every dollar can be spent just once, wasting money, and time, on a complicated restructuring when there are so many more urgent needs for health spending is another of this government’s serious mistakes.

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