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New community group protests at hospital against funding cuts

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News from United Community Action Newtown

Members of the south Wellington community and supporters will be taking to the streets to protest against funding cuts affecting vital primary health services such as the Newtown Union Health Service (NUHS), as the CCDHB attempt to make $20 million of savings this year.

A new community group, United Community Action Newtown (UCAN), has been established to oppose the funding cuts and has organised the protest outside Wellington Hospital at 8:45am on Friday.

UCAN Coordinator Debbie Leyland says Newtown Union Health Service, which works with some of the most vulnerable people in the region, will lose $274,000 this year and expects to face more significant cuts in the year ahead.

“The DHB has indicated the 7.9% funding reduction to NUHS is required to help the DHB save $20 million this year. It has been indicated that the DHB needs to save an additional $20 million over the next two years which will have a serious impact on primary health care.”.

Leyland says the cuts will have serious impacts on patients who have no other option but to access low-cost primary health care, such as NUHS.

“Newtown Union Health is a low cost primary health service that provides vital services to some of the most vulnerable people in Wellington. The funding cuts are dire for the service. Services such as the diabetes program are likely to be cut. There are nurses and doctors volunteering to work for free to keep services going. Wellington Hospital’s A&E will become increasingly cluttered and there will be less ability for accurate assessment of A&E patients due to the extra pressure.”

Leyland says the Government is ultimately responsible for the cuts, and says Health Minister Tony Ryall has refused to meet with community representatives.

“The Government is using a sharp razor to cut services that are vital to the lives of many vulnerable people. We would like to discuss the implications of these cuts with the Minister of Health Tony Ryall so he understands the impacts. Minister Ryall’s office is refusing to meet with us and has told us that he does not meet with members of the community. This shows he is deeply out of touch”.

Leyland believes the cut backs are a poor financial decision and will cost taxpayers money.

“Several dollars are saved in other parts of the health system for every one dollar put into primary health care. These cuts will cost tax payers millions in the long run. The Government should be putting a fence at the top of the cliff, not simply relying on an ambulance at the bottom.” Concludes Leyland.

UCAN has also launched a petition calling for the reinstatement of the funding.

The protest will be taking place from 8:45am on Friday 10th August outside Wellington Hospital, near the A&E department.

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Health cuts will hurt most vulnerable

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Tuesday 5 June

Media release from United Community Action Newtown (UCAN)

In a classic case of David versus Goliath, concerned members of the Newtown community will protest the quarter million funding cut to the Newtown Union Health Service on Friday.

NUHS has been told by the Capital and Coast District Health Board that it will lose $274,000 in funding from July 1, 2012. The frontline primary health care service caters to South Wellington’s most vulnerable communities, looking after people who have difficulty accessing appropriate and affordable health care due to socio-economic deprivation and language barriers.

“These cuts will hugely impact our community,” says NUHS patient and community spokesperson Debbie Leyland. “[NUHS] will have to dramatically reduce the services they offer, which means our most vulnerable communities will have less access to primary health care.”

“Health cuts hurt communities, and they cost us more in the long term.”

The cuts are indicative of wider cuts to public health across the board. The 2012 budget sees the government taking $129 million from the health sector over the next four years.

““The Government is taking a bottom-of-the-cliff approach to our health system,” Ms Leyland says. “These cuts will reduce the well-being of our whole community.”

United Community Action Newtown (UCAN) has formed in response to the cuts, and comprises patients of NUHS and the wider Newtown community. They will protest outside the CCDHB Board Meeting at Wellington Hospital this Friday.

Southern Ward City Councillor Paul Eagle supports the community’s campaign to save Newtown’s primary health service.
“This funding cut will mean no more visits to the doctor for many families. I challenge those unsupportive District Health Board members to hit the streets with me and meet first hand, the very people impacted by this.”

Local politicians will join the community for the protest, which leaves NUHS (14 Hall Ave) to march to Wellington Hospital at 8:30am on Fri 8th June.
Representatives of the community will then present oral submissions inside the CCDHB Board Meeting at 9am.

Ends