The president comments ...
Subject: Medical policy (Interpretation and construction)
Medical policy (Social aspects)
Nursing services (Laws, regulations and rules)
Nursing services (Social aspects)
Author: Tunnicliff, Nano
Pub Date: 12/01/2011
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Dec, 2011 Source Volume: 17 Source Issue: 11
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 970 Government domestic functions; 930 Government regulation; 940 Government regulation (cont); 980 Legal issues & crime Advertising Code: 94 Legal/Government Regulation Computer Subject: Government regulation
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Name: New Zealand; New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 276720707
Full Text: It is the season to be jolly--the world cup is in the bag, the general election is done and dusted, and Christmas is on the horizon. It's a good time to reflect on what all this now means for New Zealand and the health of our population. More importantly, what does it mean for future health policy? And wilt it see nurses being "freed to care and proud to nurse"?

Just over 73 per cent of registered voters opting to exercise their right to vote in November's general election. (1) It is concerning that an increasing percentage of people do not vote at elections. It could be apathy or a protest by those not participating, because they did not like what was offered. However, the growing numbers choosing not to vote does not signal a healthy democracy. In fact, growing apathy could kill democracy and allow dictatorships to return by stealth.

The potential for that to happen is scary, so I have decided to assume a new, positive attitude. Politicians can be trusted, they do tell the truth, answer questions honestly with no PR spin and, most importantly, they listen to their constituents. With those new positive assumptions I would now like to ask the incoming health minister: Where are the 2000 new nurses the previous National coalition government talked about in its election broadcasts? (Note the emphasis on new because I don't count existing nurses doing extra shifts etc as new). A simple enough question and I hope it will be greeted with a simple, straightforward answer, which I will be able to share with you all in the New Year. If the government can show there are, in fact, 2000 new nurses, then implementing care capacity demand management across district health boards should go smoothly. I await the answer with interest.

What about the future of our publicly funded health system? This rather big issue remained largely under wraps during the election campaign, which I found rather surprising. The government certainly has some rosy statistics to show around its achievements over the last three years. However, this wasn't deemed as newsworthy as a cup of tea about Epsom.

I have also studied the National Party's health policy for the next three years, as it will affect art nurses, regardless of where they work. (2) The "better, sooner, more convenient" policy will continue. There will be more focus on family integrated centres and increasing emphasis on "clinical integration", which will see more services moving from hospital settings to communities. Workforce development will be strengthened. More money will be channeled into preventative programmes such as screening for rheumatic fever and boosting the immunisation target for under-twos to 95 per cent by 2014. It all sounds great, then I read the small print. All of these new programmes will be achieved from within the existing health budget. Sigh!

The part of the health policy that was lacking in detail was around managing demand in the health sector. That is probably the most important issue and should have been openly debated with the general public before the election. Let's hope this pressing issue is addressed in the not too distant future to ensure a sustainable, publicly-funded health system remains in New Zealand.

Merry Christmas and have a happy and safe New Year.

References

(1) New Zealand Election Results (2011) www.electionresults.govt.nz/electionresults_2011/pp_stats index.html. Retrieved 27/11/11.

(2) National Party (2011). General health policies, www.national.org,nz/. Retrieved 27/11/11.
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