Health workers all over the country – and lots of their patients – have their fingers crossed for a big Budget boost but there is scepticism about whether that will happen.
Massive staffing shortages were contributing to huge waits for care – whether its a check-up with the GP, a new hip or even cancer surgery.
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, a senior doctor’s union, said it had three priorities this Budget – workforce, workforce and workforce.
Executive director Sarah Dalson was not optimistic a lot of money was coming for health tomorrow, even if it really needed it.
The government had made some big health spends in recent years – including last year’s Budget commitment of $11 billion over two years.
But about $6b more was needed just to get in line with comparable countries, she said.
“I know the government considered they put a lot extra into health last year but a single shot is never going to get us there,” she said.
“We need sustained investment at Budget time, underpinned by proper workforce planning, which we still don’t have.”
Christchurch Hospital has been in the spotlight for surgical waits that were so long even cancer patients were being delayed, with lack of staff a major factor in the problems.
A surgeon there, Chris Wakeman, said he would like to see more money ringfenced for paying private hospitals to do some of the work on the public lists.
He would also like to see the surgical days in public hospitals lengthened to include evenings and weekends, although that would have to be balanced with the risk of staff burnout, he said.
None of it was ideal but something was needed to make a substantial dent, he said.
“If you owned a factory and you were trying to clear a back load you would run longer hours, use more staff and use extra facilities to try and clear that backlog,” he said.
RNZ polled people outside Auckland City Hospital about what they wanted to see.
Two lab scientists said their teams needed money to help bring in more staff to improve conditions and reduce burn out.
“Everybody is at breaking point. We need additional FTE [full time equivalent positions] and we need them now,” they said.
A hospital patient out for a morning stroll had no hesitation about where he wanted to see the money go.
“To our nurses. They need it. They’re awesome. They’re supporting everyone else,” he said.
And another man with complex medical conditions said he wanted money for GPs – both cutting costs for high-use patients and increasing staffing.
“There’s a big queue at the GPs and because of that it’s harder to get an appointment,” he said.
The New Zealand Nurse’s Organisation kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said it was GP nurses who really needed a fair deal.
She wanted money ringfenced to bring them – and iwi clinic nurses – in line with what nurses in hospitals were paid.
That would likely to cost at least $600 million.
“Of course we’ve got nurses going overseas so we’ve got to make them feel valued to retain them,” she said.
“But also nurses across the whole system have been under pressure so we can’t just say that those in Te Whatu Ora deserve more than those in the community,” she said.
Budget money should also go towards making sure people living rurally get the same access to good health care as those in in the cities, Nuku said.
New Zealand Indian Central Association Youth Conference Celebrates Remarkable Success
The New Zealand Indian Central Association Inc. (NZICA) is delighted to announce the resounding
success of its highly anticipated Youth Conference held at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, Auckland on
Saturday, 25 November 2023. The conference featured distinguished speakers, prominent guests,
and enthusiastic participants from all over New Zealand making it a remarkable and insightful
The Youth Conference aimed to address crucial issues related to the well-being of young individuals
in the New Zealand Indian community. It provided a platform for thought-provoking discussions,
knowledge sharing and networking opportunities for the youth.
Renowned speakers who graced the conference with their wisdom and insights included Simran
Kaur, Jazz Thornton, IOPNZ (Arrun Soma, Ajay Chhibber, Moushumi Das). Their thought-provoking
talks and engaging discussions left a profound impact on the participants, empowering them with
valuable insights and knowledge.
The outstanding success of this event would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of
the NZICA Youth Committee Chairman Shashi Patel and his highly energetic and enthusiastic team.
Their commitment to ensuring the success of the conference was evident in every aspect of the
event, from planning to execution.
The presence of esteemed NZICA Life Members, Harshad K Patel and Bhikhu Bhana added prestige
and significance to the occasion. Life Members guidance and support have been instrumental in
shaping the NZICA’s journey, and their attendance at the conference was truly appreciated.
The event was also graced by the presence of the NZICA Business Committee Chairman Dipak Bhana,
Navtej Randhawa from National Party and Suneel Kuncha from New Zealand Telugu Association,
who showed their support for the youth and their dedication to promoting Youth well-being.
NZICA would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to all the participants who attended the
conference and actively contributed to the discussions. The event’s success was a testament to the
enthusiasm and commitment of the Youth within the New Zealand Indian community.
Special thanks goes to the Auckland Indian Association for their warm hospitality and for providing
the ideal venue for this significant gathering.
Last but not least, NZICA would like to express its sincere appreciation to the generous sponsors who
provided crucial financial support, making the Youth Conference possible. Their commitment to the
community’s well-being is truly commendable, and their financial contribution is deeply valued.
NZICA remains committed to fostering the well-being and growth of the New Zealand Indian
community, especially its Youth and Women. The resounding success of the Youth Conference is a
testament to the organisation’ dedication to this noble cause
More robust gambling harm reduction measures needed, support services say
Casino operator SkyCity had over a quarter of a billion dollars wiped off its market value on Monday after the Department of Internal Affairs applied to suspend its gaming licence.
SkyCity is accused of failing to uphold its host responsibilities due to the amount of time one customer was able to spend gambling between August 2017 and February 2021.
The news has prompted organisations like the Problem Gambling Foundation and Asian Family Services to call for more robust gambling harm reduction measures.
It was now up to the Gambling Commission to decide whether or not to suspend the casino giant’s licence after a customer complained about how long they were able to spend gambling over the three-and-a-half year period.
The Department of Internal Affairs said this was in breach of SkyCity’s harm-minimisation obligations, and recommended cancelling its licence for 10 days or so.
Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude said the department was to be applauded for taking such quick action.
”It sends a clear signal to other gambling providers that they are required by law to provide effective host responsibility and that breaches have consequences,” Froude said.
“So it is good to see, without having all the details, that some action is being taken.”
Froude was also calling for a review of current harm reduction measures.
”New Zealand evidence suggests that people who gamble for three or more hours on casino pokies, have almost four times the risk of being a moderate or problem gambler, than someone who doesn’t gamble on casino pokies.
“So we’ve actually strongly recommended that the timeframe of 5 hours of continuous play be reviewed.”
Asian Family Services agreed.
National director Kelly Feng said more needed to be done to ensure services were accessible to non-English speakers.
”We know many Asians have little or lack of awareness of gambling harm and also the gambling addiction sites… there is very little information they have regarding help seeking behaviour,” Feng said
Gambling rates in the community were high, she said.
”The Asian community experiences 10 times the harm of gambling harm in particular… it is much higher than the general population, like Māori and Pacifica as well, particular for casino type gambling.”
Salvation Army’s director of social services Lynette Hutson believed current measures and processes were fit for purpose.
But she said providers need to ensure staff were trained to identify problem gamblers.
”I think that the training that is available is fairly robust, I mean we have been doing this work for a long time, so we know the kind of triggers and symptoms. It’s actually just a matter of the venues actually enforcing their training,” she said.
Meanwhile, Forsyth Barr head of research Andy Bowley believed the financial impact if the licence was suspended, would be minimal.
”In isolation, the potential financial impact of a suspended licence for ten days is relatively material… so it could be a few percent of their profits in any one year, which isn’t overly big,” he said.
”The bigger question is what else is out there, that the DIA [Department of Internal Affairs] could be investigating.”
But as of shortly after 3pm on Monday, around about $260 million was wiped off SkyCity’s market value.
In a statement, SkyCity said it was committed to maintaining the highest standards of host responsibility best practice, with priority given to minimising the impacts associated with problem gambling.
SkyCity’s Adelaide casino was also under scrutiny by Australian federal and state authorities for alleged breaches of anti-money laundering rules.
NZ merino wool sellers attract new ethical producers in Australia to stem shortfall
New Zealand is known for its jaw-dropping scenery, first-class food and wine, and sheep – lots of them.
It stands at less than a third of what it was four decades ago, about 20 million sheep, as the industry competes with other land uses like dairy and beef farming.
That is an issue for a number of businesses, including marketing and innovation firm New Zealand Merino Company.
It has built a reputation for sourcing ethically produced merino wool for the rapidly expanding outdoor apparel market.
It now sells wool to more than 130 brands, covering everything from luxury fashion to footwear.
But demand for merino wool is outstripping supply in New Zealand, despite wool only making up 1 percent of the the world’s textile fibres.
New Zealand Merino Company’s Australian regional manager Steve Wainewright said that for the past five years, the company had been sourcing additional wool for its customers from Australia.
It now has about 130 Australian woolgrowers on the books, providing the business with 15 percent of its needs.
The company has 75 percent of the market share of apparel wool grown in New Zealand.
“In the past two or so years, New Zealand Merino has really stepped up and that’s aligned with the growing demand from brand partners for wool in this space,” Wainewright said.
“We’ve got orders from 10 micron to 40 micron wool, anywhere from that luxury fashion space to interior textiles and carpet.”
Sending Australian wool to NZ
Tasmanian woolgrowers Chris and Claire Headlam started supplying New Zealand Merino three years ago.
The couple who farm at Woodbury, halfway between Launceston and Hobart, were eyeing the market for some time.
They run just over 8000 merino sheep on their 1800-hectare property, Ratharney.
“This country lends itself to growing good, healthy sheep,” Headlam said.
“It’s just a good fit with some native run country and improved paddocks, as well as irrigation.
“It gives us a few options to run those stock.”
To qualify for a three-year contract with New Zealand Merino, the Headlams ceased mulesing, a one-off procedure to remove folds of skins around a lamb’s rear and tail.
They also have to meet a globally recognised set of standards that cover fleece quality, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.
“The Kiwis ceased mulesing quite early in the piece because they could see the markets [they] could gain access to,” Headlam said.
“It was quite clever on their behalf.”
The pair recently spent some time in New Zealand as part of a study tour of its wool and textile industry, including its biggest outdoor merino brand, Icebreaker.
“I’ve always been a fan of wearing their Icebreaker apparel for nearly 20 years,” Headlam said.
“It’s cool to see that finally we’ve got some connection with a consumer through that channel, with New Zealand Merino and AWN.”
Claire Headlam said it was encouraging to see the entire supply chain on the same page.
“Icebreaker have been manufacturing quite sustainably for quite some time now,” she said.
“But their real goal is to remove plastic from their garments.
“It fits with some of our values as well, because we’re really trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use.”
This story was first published by the ABC.
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