Sowell says

02/07/2022


Four years of failure

02/07/2022

KiwiBuild is four but it’s not a happy anniversary for anyone hoping for a resolution to the housing crisis.

Today marks the fourth birthday of KiwiBuild, but there’s nothing for the Government to celebrate with just 1,366 homes built out of the 100,000 promised, National’s Housing spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“After promising to deliver 100,000 homes and fix the housing crisis, KiwiBuild has delivered a meagre 1.4 per cent its target.

“At its current rate, KiwiBuild will hit the 100,000 mark in the year 2315!”

“Last month, Housing Minister Megan Woods ludicrously claimed that KiwiBuild is ‘alive and well’, but no amount of spin can hide the utter policy failure.

“In July 2018, then-Housing Minister Phil Twyford said that KiwiBuild would deliver 1,000 homes within a year, another 5,000 by June 2020, and 10,000 in total by June 2021.

“In July of 2022, the total is still just 1,366.

“Labour has utterly failed on housing. Rents are up $150 per week, the state housing wait list is at an all-time high of 27,000, and just this month the Government racked up $1 billion being spent on emergency housing since it came to office. 4,500 Kiwi kids will wake up tomorrow living in a motel.”

“Labour cannot achieve anything, and KiwiBuild is the poster child of their failure to deliver.”


Sowell says

01/07/2022


Housing record fail

01/07/2022


$1 billion bandaid

01/07/2022

Remember how Labour was going to solve the housing crisis?

It’s got much worse on their watch and  they’ve spent $1 billion on a bandaid:

The Government’s housing failure has clocked up a new milestone: $1 billion has been spent on emergency housing, National’s Acting Housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“This is a staggering amount of money and is emblematic of Labour’s complete and utter failure on housing.

“Labour promised they would solve New Zealand’s housing crisis. Five years on, taxpayers have paid more than $1 billion in Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants, mainly to motels, with thousands of people living in motels for months at a time.

“Rapidly rising rents and unaffordable housing have pushed thousands more New Zealanders onto the state house waiting list and into emergency housing motels.

“Motels were meant to be a short-term fix to New Zealand’s housing problems. Under Labour motels have become the solution. Emergency housing has become a get-rich-quick scheme for motel owners, and has proven to be disastrous for vulnerable New Zealand families.

Many motel owners would have welcomed the government money when borders were closed and domestic travel was severely restricted.

Motels are better than no house but they’re a very poor substitute for proper homes for families.

“It is just shameful that around 4,500 New Zealand kids wake up every morning in a motel room.

“The Government seems to have given up on solving the underlying drivers of emergency housing need, instead opting for the short-term approach of writing a big cheque and looking the other way.

“The Government says state houses are the solution, but have allowed the state house waiting list to explode from fewer than 6000 people when National left office to more than 27,000 today. Meanwhile its state-house builder, Kainga Ora, has demolished or sold more houses this year than they’ve actually built, while only 1365 of the 100,000 Kiwibuild homes promised have been delivered.”

Demolition of selling houses isn’t necessarily bad policy if the houses are in the wrong place, poor condition or otherwise unfit for purpose.

But it’s hypocritical for Labour to be so eager to highlight the state houses sold or demolished when National was in government when they’re doing it too.

National would:

  • Take pressure off rapidly rising rents (up $50 a week in the past year) by removing Labour’s “Tenant Taxes”, restoring interest deductibility for private rentals and taking the 10-year brightline test back to two years.
  • Fund community housing providers to build new social homes and provide targeted support to vulnerable tenants. The community housing sector is ready and willing to grow, they just need a Government that will back them.
  • Using a targeted social investment approach to support vulnerable individuals with effective interventions that get results.
  • Support more housing supply by removing RMA barriers and working with local government to fund infrastructure needed for growth.

“Labour has failed on housing. The state house waitlist has quadrupled, rents are up $150 per week and now the Government has spent $1 billion on housing people in motels.

That’s a very expensive and inferior bandaid.

 


Sowell says

30/06/2022


Inaction & distraction

30/06/2022

A year ago the government was warned that urgent action was needed to avert a health crisis:.

Newly released information shows that Health Minister Andrew Little ignored warnings a year ago about the risk of crippling health shortages, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“An urgent letter on behalf of all 20 DHBs was sent to health officials in July 2021 warning of impending health workforce shortages and requesting immediate changes to immigration settings.

“After receiving the letter warning of a looming storm about to hit the health sector, Andrew Little decided to ignore it and pushed on with his health restructure.

“The letter clearly outlines the danger of critical workforce shortages, the need for overseas trained staff, and an expected increase in demand in emergency departments. Unfortunately, this gloomy prognosis from the sector has come true.

“The Health Minister is failing at his core responsibility of ensuring New Zealanders have access to health care, all because he is distracted by his ideologically driven desire to restructure the health bureaucracy.

“New Zealanders are now missing out on health care because Minister Little has failed to act on warnings from the sector. Meanwhile, New Zealand is missing out on nurses to Australia because the Government has refused to put them on the fast-tracked residency pathway. Now we are dangerously 4,000 nurses short and have a health sector slowly falling apart at the seams.

“Andrew Little needs to explain why he didn’t listen to pleas from the sector last year about the coming workforce shortage, and why he didn’t take urgent action to bring more workers in from overseas.”

The government keeps boasting of the money it’s poured into health but it hasn’t gone where it’s needed:

We now know why Andrew Little isn’t resourcing Emergency Departments – because he has spent it all on consultants and contractors, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

Last year the Ministry of Health reportedly hired 407 consultants and contractors but with a month still to go in the current reporting year that number has exploded to 1,359 – nearly 1,000 more.

“Our hospitals are at breaking point. We are desperately short of 4,000 nurses and the Government has hired 1,000 consultants to prop up their flailing health restructure.

“This is a slap in the face for aged residential care who are desperate for 1,000 nurses, DHBs who are desperate for 3,000 nurses, clinics who are desperate for 1,500 GPs and specialists who are 1,500 short.

“New Zealanders deserve better. Andrew Little needs to explain to patients waiting more than eight hours at Middlemore ED why an extra 1,000 consultants is more important than ED doctors and nurses.”

Dr Reti spoke outlined the failings in yesterday’s General Debate:

Thank you, Mr Speaker. We now know why more than more than 36,000 people are waiting more than four months to see a specialist. We now know why emergency department (ED) wait times have increased, with some people waiting more than 32 hours. We now know why we have a health workforce shortage—4,000 nurses, 1,500 GPs, and 1,500 specialists.

Because Andrew Little ignored the cry for help a year ago when a district health board (DHB) chief executive wrote, on behalf of every DHB, pleading for help, a letter with dire warnings and actions that were needed immediately to “avert a health crisis”. A year later, the chickens have come home to roost.

Let’s see if Andrew Little takes a general debate call this afternoon, 48 hours out from significant health reforms, which would be the convention with such a big structural change. Let’s see if that happens, and if he wants to defend what I’ll lay down on the table today. The Minister is trying to say he only found out about this letter a month ago. I do not believe that, and I want to challenge that on at least two points.

First of all, if the Minister didn’t know about the letter, he should have known about the letter. This letter was on behalf of every single chief executive in the DHB sector—that is, the most senior executive group in our hospitals—and they deserved his attention.

Secondly, very senior people in the Minister’s own ministry also received the letter—the ministry he is supposed to have oversight for. It was also sent to the acting Deputy Director-General of Health Workforce New Zealand on 28 July last year. It’s a very senior person, the Deputy Director-General, inside the Ministry of Health.

I contend that Andrew Little should have been aware, or was aware, of this letter from DHBs a year ago and he did nothing. The Minister was warned a year ago and did nothing. His track record in this sort of MO is well known. I’m inclined to remember ICU beds—warned about it, did nothing, and the dire consequence that came from doing nothing around ICU beds, and particularly building new ICU beds, particularly in Auckland.

The letter sent by 20 DHBs a year ago had multiple warnings. First, the health system is buckling, with some sites in code red. Directly from the letter: “You will be aware that our hospitals are also experiencing very high levels of occupancy at present, and some sites are even in code red, where they are deemed to be at extreme levels. This is obviously an unsustainable situation and places even more pressure on our existing workforce. We are very concerned about this situation and for the potential for further deterioration if there are no changes to assist with at least securing the existing workforce from 20 DHBs.”

Secondly, the letter also says, “We are also experiencing increased presentations in emergency departments.” They even sent graphs of what the occupancy rate looks like inside the EDs, showing the increasing trend towards what they call “extreme occupancy” across emergency departments a year ago, and here we are today with emergency department times increasing.

Point three, what the letter also says: “In order to respond to surge, the system will have to redirect workforce from areas like planned care.” That’s code for 36,000 people waiting more than four months to see a specialist. What’s really poignant is their last summary of that: “This will have long-term impacts on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.”

Point four, and here’s the immigration bit—here is what 20 DHBs were urgently asking for, which resonates what my colleague Erica Stanford has been talking about for a long time, in which we have a petition up at the moment. This is the summary to the letter: “Therefore, DHBs seek your immediate attention to (1) ensure our current overseas-trained staff can have a direct and prompt path to residency.” That’s not two years for registered nurses; that’s a direct and prompt path to residency. “And (2) that overseas health professionals are facilitated to enter New Zealand as required to avert a crisis in the health sector.”

Clearly that has failed. This was a warning a year ago that the Minister had and he did nothing. There’s now no money for ED nurses; no money for ED docs. Because what we also know is that instead of building the health workforce, the ministry has employed up to 1,000 new consultants—not even in the past year, just in the past 10 months is what the written parliamentary question shows. No money for ED nurses, no money for ED doctors, but plenty for up to 1,000 consultants.

It’s interesting looking at the list of consultants: corporate services, 78; data and digital, 728; the DG’s Office, 40; Health Workforce New Zealand, 10. I think that kind of sums it up right there. Just 10 in this bloated, excessive list of consultants. I rest my case.

The government kept telling us the Covid-19 lockdowns and other restrictions imposed on us were to stop the health system from being overwhelmed.

But in spite of those unprecedented losses of freedom, the health system is in crisis.

. . . The health system is in meltdown. Call it a crisis, or don’t. It is collapsing around us.

Healthcare staff are at the end of their rope – undervalued and underpaid for years, the wave of strikes is a cry for help. Most are distressed because they know people will die because they can’t access treatment.

As the system buckles, there is incredulity that Health Minister Andrew Little is pushing ahead with a bureaucratic overhaul. Doctors are being asked to work – unpaid – on groups advising the ministry on how to bed in the new regime. No-one seems to know how it will work – the changes are yet another burden that the workforce cannot absorb. . . 

People who move can’t register with a general practitioner and those who have one wait days, sometimes weeks, for an appointment.

Emergency Departments are overwhelmed, there’s a dire shortage of beds in wards and elective surgery has to be postponed time and time again.

Some of the blame can be placed on Covid-19 but the pandemic isn’t responsible for all the problems.

It’s the government that didn’t respond to the warning from the DHB’s.

It’s the government that wouldn’t loosen immigration settings to enable foreign health professionals here to gain residency and those overseas to come in.

It’s the government that’s wasted time, energy and millions of dollars on restructuring the system instead of addressing the problems facing services and the people who deliver them.

It’s the health workforce and people needing services who are paying a very high price for their inaction over the problems and distraction with restructuring.


Sowell says

29/06/2022


From rock star to rocky

29/06/2022

It hasn’t taken long for the New Zealand economy to sink from rock star to rocky:

Paul Bloxham, HSBC’s chief economist, once described New Zealand as a “rockstar economy”.

That was back in January 2014.

Today, there is nothing “rockstar” left about the New Zealand economy, unless you have Ozzy Osbourne in mind.

For more than three decades, the Swiss Institute for Management and Development (IMD) has compiled annual rankings of competitiveness for 63 of the world’s most important countries. It makes for sobering reading for New Zealanders.

Back in 2017, New Zealand ranked #16 – ahead of Australia at #21.

Five years on, New Zealand has fallen to #31, while Australia is now ranked #19. . . 

And the reason? It’s the economy.

Over the past few years, we have plunged in economic performance, falling from 22nd to 47th place. Government efficiency has also deteriorated markedly from 7th to 17th place.

That’s not a record for this government to feel proud of. And it gets worse.

Altogether, the IMD’s ranking comprises 25 subcategories. In eight of them, New Zealand finds itself in the bottom half of all countries. And these are the categories that really matter: domestic economy, international trade and investment, inflation, productivity and efficiency, attitudes and values, and technological infrastructure.

The IMD noted New Zealand going in the wrong direction on subsidies, inflation, tourism, brain drain, public finances, skilled labour, competent senior managers, and central bank policy.

As shocking as it is to see the IMD’s assessment, if we are honest, none of this should surprise us.

We know that our public finances are not in good shape.

We have observed the erratic behaviour of the Reserve Bank.

We are watching the onset of a new brain drain to Australia and the rest of the world.

We have seen how Covid has decimated our once thriving tourism industry.

And we feel the effect of inflation every time we fill our cars or do the weekly shopping.

Where the IMD’s competitiveness ranking holds up an external mirror to us, Westpac’s Consumer Confidence Survey, released this week, shows that Kiwis also understand how dire our economic situation has become.

Consumer confidence in New Zealand now stands at the lowest level since that survey began in 1988. And, perhaps most damningly, for the first time, a majority has a negative 5-year outlook on the economy.

These are not just signs of a small downturn. These are signs of a former rockstar in a policy-induced coma.

Economic performance isn’t just about the economy for the economy’s sake. It’s about the ability to fund the infrastructure, services and technology we need, it’s about the ability for people to afford what they need to live a good life; it’s about confidence that the future will be better that attracts inward migration and investment and stops the outward flow.

It’s not just the economy that’s going in the wrong direction, there’s been a slump in livable city status for Auckland and Wellington:

New Zealand’s reign of trump is over as Wellington and Auckland have nosedived in the latest world’s most livable cities ranking survey.

The 2022 Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index, released on Thursday, saw two of New Zealand’s biggest cities receive massive drops in the rankings.

Wellington had the biggest drop in the rankings, going from four down to 50 while Auckland also plummeted down the rankings from one to 34.

The index ranks 172 global cities for their urban quality of life out of 100, based on an assessment of their education, healthcare, culture and environment, stability and infrastructure. . . 

Vienna, was number one with 99.1

Auckland rated 89.2 and Wellington 85.7 which aren’t really bad, but will make it harder to attract the workers we need.

Covid can take some of the blame, but it’s not a uniquely New Zealand problem and it’s an indictment on the government.

Remember its Wellbeing Budget?

These rankings show that can be filed in the failure bin along with KiwiBuild, climate change improvements and all the other announcements that haven’t led to delivery.


Sowell says

28/06/2022


No shades of grey

28/06/2022

Ooohh look over there.

That’s what Labour and others on the left are doing in trying to make Roe vs Wade an issue in New Zealand.

They’re worried about the polls and desperate for something they can use to attack National. Struggling to find traction on anything here they’re doing their best to use something that has no relevance in New Zealand.

In doing so they’ve been helped by the media who have, as they do too often, painted abortion as a black and white issue with no attempt to cover the many shades of grey.

Coverage of abortion is almost always divided into the two extremes, depicting it as  either a woman’s choice or anti-women.

Those extremes might reflect the views of some people.

Some  believe abortion is never, ever right.  Some believe it is never, ever wrong.

But in between are a range of views.

It is possible to believe that life begins at conception but that abortion is right in a case like this to save the mother when the baby can’t survive.

It is possible to believe that life begins at conception and accept that while abortion isn’t right for those who believe that, there are cases where it could be right for others.

It is possible to believe that life begins at conception and accept it as an option in some circumstances including when the pregnancy is the result of incest or rape; it is being carried by a child; carrying the baby endangers the life or health of the mother, be it mental or physical; or when the mother for myriad reasons couldn’t cope with a child.

It is possible to believe that life begins at conception and accept that the consequences of illegal abortions, when that’s all there are, require and legitimise safe and legal ones.

Then there’s the shades of grey on the other side.

It is possible to believe that abortion is a woman’s right and accept there’s intellectual inconsistency when what’s aborted is regarded as merely a bunch of cells but what’s lost in a miscarriage is a baby with all the grief that goes with such a loss.

It is possible to believe that abortion is a woman’s right in early pregnancy but not in later stages, especially once the baby could survive outside the womb.

It is possible to believe that abortion is a woman’s right but that the child, and the father have rights too.

These nuances are rarely, if ever, covered in media stories on the issue and I have seen none in the extensive coverage that’s come in the wake of the US court’s decision.

Instead a lot of the focus has been on National and attempts to make abortion an issue which might have a profound impact on support, or otherwise for the party, and on next year’s election even though the USA decision has no relevance here.

Belatedly some focus turned on Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta who tweeted a comment condemning the Roe vs Wade decision even though she voted against the 2020 legislation liberalising abortion law.

. . . Politicians in New Zealand were also quick to condemn the move including Nanaia Mahuta who called it “draconian”. 

“The US Supreme Courts overturning of Roe v. Wade Is draconian and does not support the right of women to choice. How can this happen? (sic)” Mahuta tweeted on Saturday. . . 

Mahuta voted in favour of the first abortion reform reading in 2019 but against the second and third. She also voted in favour of legislation to introduce safe zones for women accessing abortion facilities in 2022. 

A spokesperson for Mahuta said she was travelling and wouldn’t be able to answer why she voted against the second and third readings.  . . 

But regardless of which of our MPs voted which way, the USA legislation is an issue for that country and its people, not us and ours.

There might be a few single-issue voters who are agitated about abortion but when both major parties have said they have no intention of revisiting the legislation it won’t be of concern for most.

What will be top of mind, and are of far more imortance, are the issues from which Labour is trying to distract us – the cost of living, housing shortage, increase in crime, a health system in crisis . . .

There’s more than enough to foment domestic indignation without importing it over what’s happening in the USA. It will change nothing here no matter how hard some are trying to make it an issue for us and in doing so are painting it as black and white with no shades of grey.


Sowell says

27/06/2022


Winston Churchill’s wisdom

27/06/2022


Regrets, he’s got a few

27/06/2022

Former Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has regrets:

. . . Asked if he had regrets, Hipkins said it is easy to look back with the knowledge we have now, but “you still have to make decisions based on the information that you had at the time.”

Hipkins told Q+A that some restrictions may have gone on too long.

“I think there were probably some areas where we could have moved more quickly to step down some restrictions,” he said.

“I think that lockdown in Auckland at the end of 2021 … I think nerves were pretty frayed by that and we should acknowledge that. Aucklanders paid a big price for our ongoing suppression of Delta while we got our vaccination rates up.” . . 

That begs the questions:

Does he also regret the slow vaccine rollout which is why vaccination rates weren’t nearly as high as they could, and ought to, have been when Delta got into the community?

Does he regret the mental, physical and financial toll the extended lockdown took?

Does he regret the lottery of misery that left people stranded without jobs and homes and kept so many people from coming home to be with seriously ill and dying family and friends, to attend funerals?

Does he regret the unfair and unkind exemption system that let hundreds of foreign DJs in but kept hundreds of pregnant New Zealand women out?

Does he regret the enormous economic and human cost of the extended lockdown and closed borders?

Does he regret the massive debts incurred by the Covid fund and the spending of a lot of it on initiatives that had nothing to do with Covid recovery?

Does he regret the slow approval and import of rapid antigen tests (RATs)?

Doe he regret the time and money his government has, and continues to waste, on restructuring the health system instead of strengthening it to cope with Covid-19 and the usual winter ills?

Does he regret not learning from repeated reports, and implementing the recommendations of them which would have reduced the impact of Delta and Omicron?

Having no playbook explains, and possibly excuses, early mistakes.

It neither explains nor excuses failing to learn from them and do much better, much sooner.


Matariki pluses and minuses

24/06/2022

People in the northern hemisphere have had mid winter celebrations for centuries. There it comes conveniently at the end of one calendar year and the start of another.

Whenever it comes in the calendar, there’s something to be said for something to take our minds off the dark and cold, and a celebration that is uniquely ours.

The stars of course are universal, but Matariki is New Zealand’s – or should that be Aotearoa’s?

Fireworks in the middle of winter when it’s dark by five o’clock make a lot more sense than having them in November when the sun doesn’t set until several hours later, and the fire danger is much greater.

Passing quickly over the thought that fireworks might be cultural appropriation, the ODT opines that  they struck the wrong note with the advisory group guiding the Government on the new holiday.

Fireworks do not align with a core value of Matariki — mana taiao (environmental awareness) — as they pollute the night sky with light and noise and can litter the sea with debris.

It also seems odd, when stars are being celebrated, to be adding something artificial to the sky rather than observing what is already there. . .

So maybe no fireworks.

While many will enjoy any excuse for a day off, they all come at a  cost to business. Matariki is the 12th statutory holiday.

Add those 12 days to the minimum four weeks annual leave and that’s more than six working weeks when workers aren’t working.

It has been estimated that the public holiday could cost businesses up to $448 million.

An unintended consequence of having a holiday on a Friday, rather than a Monday, is that it will increase wage costs for those hospitality outlets which might usually close on Mondays and so not usually be up for paying penal rates. . . 

Good Friday is the only statutory holiday that always falls on a Friday. Others are either on the day they happen to fall, or Monday.

Holidays for any that fall on Saturday or Sunday are Mondayised.

No-one in the government appears of have thought about the impact on hospitality operations that are usually very busy on Fridays and quieter, or closed, on Mondays.

That could well be another sign we’ve got a government with little, if any, appreciation of business.

Whatever the pluses and minuses, we’ve got another holiday and it’s likely to stay, although moving it from Friday to Monday might be a possibility.


Thatcher thinks

23/06/2022


Vacancy for Nat president

23/06/2022

National Party president Peter Goodfellow has announced he will retire from the role at the AGM, creating a vacancy for the role.

In an email to members he said he would seek re-election for one more year as a director but would not be seeking re-election as president.

He had planned to retire in 2016 but following John Key’s resignation as leader he decided to stay on to help ensure a stable transition of leadership and for the following year’s election campaign.

He was been president for some of the party’s highest points and some of its lowest.

He oversaw some significant changes to the party’s constitution which were confirmed at last year’s AGM,  including a more rigorous candidate selection process and a limit on the number of terms a board member could serve.

The party’s dismal poll results have been reversed with the election of Christopher Luxon as leader and Peter is standing down at a good time for his replacement to take the reins with more or less a year until the next election.


Winston Churchill’s wisdom

23/06/2022


Nurses and midwives need fast track residency

23/06/2022

The government has the wrong priorities for immigration:

As New Zealand’s health system crumbles due to critical staffing shortages, National has launched a campaign to ensure that migrant nurses and midwives are offered a fast-tracked pathway to residency, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Labour has offered immediate residency to food technologists and ‘multimedia specialists’, yet not to these critical health workers.

Does the country have a dire need for food technologists and ‘mulitmedia specialists’ ?

It might, but the need for those people can’t be any higher than the need for nurses and midwives.

“Every day brings new headlines about our health system’s abysmal staffing shortcomings. Yet, the Government still hasn’t fixed its two-tiered immigration system that does nothing to attract nurses and midwives to New Zealand.

“Nurses and midwives are both on Australia’s priority skills list. If Australia offers the certainty of immediate residency, why would they choose New Zealand if they need to wait two years before they are even eligible to apply?

“We are short of around 4,000 nurses in this country. Continued unaddressed, we will surely hear worsening stories of 24-hour waits at Emergency Departments and patients even forgoing critically important treatment altogether.

“National has been calling on the Government to offer an immediate pathway to residency for nurses and midwives for months.

“However, the Immigration Minister can only provide an unfounded response that they shouldn’t be offered immediate residency because they might choose to leave their profession.

“That’s simply not good enough because we need these workers and the skills they would bring right now.

“National has launched a petition imploring the Government to immediately add nurses and midwives to the fast-track, start the fast-track process immediately and ensure the process of gaining residence is complete within three months of application.

“Until the Government takes action, it is Kiwis who will continue to pay the price.” 

The health system is sick and the prescription for treating it should have been given to frontline services and the people who provide them, not to restructuring the system.

Doctors and vets are on the green track for residency, as they should be, but so too should nurses and midwives. And the fast track should start immediately, not in September when the worst of winter illnesses will be over.

Hospitals are in crisis.

Staff are overworked, patients are facing long waits in emergency departments, surgery is being postponed, pregnant women are struggling to find a midwife, and resthomes have empty beds because they can’t find enough nurses :

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says the Aged Care sector is in dire straits without mandated minimum safe staffing levels.

In 2020, between 200 and 300 Section 31 notices were submitted to the Ministry of Health notifying of the health and safety risks to patients caused by understaffing.

841 were submitted in 2021. Now 841 have been submitted between January and April of 2022 alone.

Chair of the NZNO College of Gerontology Natalie Seymour says the Aged Care sector is in crisis.

“Nurses are doing 12-16 hour shifts without a proper stand down period. I recently worked a 93 ½ hour week and this is getting more and more common.

“We have a huge shortfall of qualified registered and enrolled nurses, which is having a massively negative impact. I manage a facility with four nurses on the floor for 75 patients who require specialist care.

“The voluntary standards for our aged care facilities say each patient needs only need half an hour of one nurse’s care. But our ageing population are sicker, older, and more acute. The patients we have need much more care than half an hour a day.”

Ms Seymour says Aged Care facilities are responding to understaffing by refusing to fill beds.

“790 beds were closed this past year. When this happens it backs up hospitals, which are already over capacity, or leads to people being discharged when they shouldn’t be, burdening their whānau and communities.

“In order to make up the wages we have to increase room charges, and these are already $1500-2500 per week. We have people selling the family home to pay for care.”

Ms Seymour told the Health Select Committee this morning that a standardised acuity tool is needed that would help set staff/patient ratios that ensure clinically and culturally safe care for our patients.

“But we must also address the disparity between DHB and Aged Care worker pay, which can be up to $20,000, and this makes it incredibly difficult to recruit and retain staff.

“We do our best to pick up the pieces and support families through their grieving, to give them the care, support, and touch they deserve in their dying days. But the reality is no longer possible for our burned out Aged Care nurses and health workers.” 

Making employment in New Zealand for nurses and midwives by putting them on the fast-track, doing it immediately and ensuring their residency process is completed within three months would help to solve those problems.

You can sign the petition here.


Thatcher thinks

22/06/2022


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