UCAN meet with Minister Grant Robertson

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Disclaimer: UCAN is not affiliated with any political party.

On Friday 28th August 2020, members from UCAN met with Finance Minister and Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson. These are the notes from that meeting.

⦁ Grant agrees that the current Pharmacy Card System is clumsy and needs to be addressed.
Under the current system, the Pharmacy Subsidy Card expires on February 1st every year. After that date, people who rely on medication for their day to day lives need to pay full price for their prescriptions until they have paid a minimum of $100, at which stage their card will be re-instated. He recalled joining a protest against co-payments with Helen Clark many years ago.

⦁ He agrees that another Tacy Street type structure needs to be implemented in South East Wellington for Mental Health.
Tacy Street Clinic in Kilbirnie was mental health facility. Since it’s closure, the residents of South East Kilbirnie have nowhere to turn to in their area.

⦁ Grant has said that he will ask Paul Eagle (Rongotai MP) to follow up on Mental Health facilities for the area.

⦁ DHB’s nationwide have been informed that Boards have responsibilities related to housing for people with mental illness. Mental Health Crises Housing is their responsibility. This is a specific task for this financial year (starting July 1st).
This is in relation to mental health patients being put into unsuitable living circumstances. Either they are put into community housing, even though they are not capable of living with other people; or people are left to live alone when they are not capable of caring for themselves. Both of these circumstances have lead to tragic and unnecesary losses of life.

⦁ New Mental Health housing facilities have been set up in Wellington Central, but the DHB has not followed through on all of their responsibilities to such housing.
Clarification is needed on when these where founded, and percentage of the community is currently being helped, and whether or not they are making a difference to people’s lives. However, due to COVID-19, this has been delayed.

⦁ We were informed that most decisions on Mental Health are actioned through the local DHB, not through the Ministry of Health.
The 20 District Health Boards that exist in New Zealand, although they are governed by the Ministry of Health, all work independently of each other. In previous years Boards have been left to address housing issues as they saw fit. Grant said that in this financial year the Budget includes provision for housing people with mental illness. This should appear in the CCDHB Annual Plan for 2020-2021. 

⦁ Grant brought up the point of Inter-District Flows – A DHB charging a patient’s local DHB if they are not local to the area that they are treated in.
Due to discrepancies in procedure prices, this leaves many DHB’s under-funded, as many will only pay out the amount that they themselves charge, rather than what they are quoted.

⦁ We were informed that just a couple of days prior to this meeting, the Ministry of Education had been given extra funding to continue the roll-out of devices and internet connection to students in need.

Grant has agreed to meet with UCAN members again within the first 100 days if reelected this election.

In attendance were Debbie Leyland, UCAN Chairperson; John Cody, UCAN Committee Member; Stacey Ryan,  UCAN Youth Advisor.