UCAN

Fewer and fewer New Zealanders able to access the health care they need, when they need it.

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For release on Thursday 14 February 2013

The United Community Action Network (UCAN), which was established to protest cuts to community based primary health care services is concerned that the people who need health care the most in this country are becoming less and less able to access it.

UCAN spokesperson, Debbie Leyland says, “The Government keeps telling us that the health of our children is a priority but everything they are doing shows that they couldn’t care less. Free health care for children has been extended but in many communities there is nowhere to get it from.”

“Funding is being slashed to community health providers who work with refugees, migrants and those on low incomes, and many are being forced to cut services. Last year Newtown Union Health lost its midwifery services because of a 7.8 percent cut to it budget.”

“UCAN is not the only group worried about the impact of health equity. Tomorrow the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners is holding a quality symposium with a focus on how to influence improvements in children’s health and at the Living Wage symposium people from all around the country are coming together to make the links between a decent living wage and health and well-being,” Leyland says.

“UCAN believes that there is a clear need for community-based publically-funded health services that are focussed on providing health care to everyone who needs it, when they need it, where they need it.”

“We urge the Minister of Health to walk the talk. Prioritising children means prioritising the health of children and their families. And that means funding the services that will improve the health and well-being of every child, no matter where they live or what their families’ income is.”

ENDS

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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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