More than a little late

The announcement of more money to increase ICU capacity is welcome but more than a little late:

The Government’s announced ICU spend up is one Christmas too late, National’s spokesperson for Health Dr Shane Reti says.

“By his own admission Andrew Little didn’t build a single new resourced adult ICU bed in Auckland in the 18 months before Delta arrived and the number of new build ICU beds in this announcement, across the whole country is only 31 new beds or roughly 10 per cent.

“This is a paltry figure when he was advised by specialists last year to triple the number of beds. If he hasn’t figured it out already, 355 negative pressure room ward beds are not 355 ICU beds.

The failure to act sooner has come at a very high financial and social cost.

“His failure to prepare ICU beds is one reason why Auckland has been in extended lockdown, why businesses have failed and why 100,000 Kiwis have had their procedures cancelled.

“Many of the announcements today are not actually new builds but “robbing Peter to pay Paul” by converting ward beds, administrative space and elective surgery beds into ICU beds. The hope has to be that these beds will then serve a dual purpose otherwise the lost inpatient beds will eventually add to escalating waiting lists for people to see specialists and have cancelled procedures.

“Andrew Little has said the first ICU beds will be next July which will be too late if Omicron lands in NZ. We need to see a delivery schedule and clear evidence that funding has followed the greatest need.

“When in government, National spent more than $200 million on health infrastructure in every single one of its last 5 years while at the same time successfully balancing service delivery and getting waiting lists down.

“What is also missing in this announcement here is the health workforce. Where is the health workforce to staff these announcements. Delta has been all about ICU and actually ICU nurses have been the rate limiting step however there is no evidence of any planning or funding to address this ongoing problem.

The government has only recently set aside MIQ spaces for ICU nurses but few if any have been used.

“New Zealanders can have little faith that the new announcements will be built on time, on budget and in scope given Treasury’s recent reports for the Ministry of Health showing that under a Labour government the Ministry of Health has gone backwards from a C to a D in Investor Confidence Ratings.

“Late announcements, poor planning, 30,000 people waiting more than 4 months to see a specialist – this is just another fail for Andrew Little and a Labour government that is more interested in health reforms than keeping New Zealanders safe during a pandemic.”

The funding wasn’t just for ICU, it was also for preparing hospital wards for Covid patients – again something that ought to have been done months ago. Instead tens of millions of dollars approved for dealing with the pandemic was misdirected to much less important projects like cameras on fishing boats.

The government has spent almost two years building up the fear of Covid and the risks that could come with its spread but has failed to bolster the health system to offset the risk and ensure that diagnosis and treatment for people with other health conditions wouldn’t be delayed.

One Response to More than a little late

  1. orcs2elves says:

    Underfunding other critical care due to lack of staff on the ground because of immigration bottlenecks a hot issue.

    Like

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