Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Coleman's plan for health savings: sell hospitals

Our health system is systematically under-funded. Canterbury DHB has responded to this in the way that DHB's traditionally have, by providing essential services and running a deficit. But the government wants them to stop, and instead make cuts. But don't worry, says Jonathan Coleman, it won't come from services:

In emails released yesterday, the board discussed what it said was a Ministry of Health demand for its deficit to be slashed to $17 million, down from its current estimate of almost $54m. The ministry has asked that the following year, it reduce its deficit to zero.

The DHB's former acting chair, Sir Mark Solomon, told RNZ that reducing spending on that scale would mean significant service cuts of unprecedented size.

He said it would equate to the cost of 750 nurses or 256 senior doctors, although Sir Mark emphasised those options were not being considered.

But Dr Coleman told Morning Report today that he could guarantee there was "no way" frontline services would be cut.

So where's it going to come from then? After decades of cuts, its not as if DHBs have thousands of pointless back-office staff they can cut. These people do jobs, and those jobs matter. Things like making sure everyone gets paid. Or making sure the wards are clean. Or ensuring there's enough cancer drugs for everyone who is scheduled to get chemotherapy. Or scheduling the appointments for all those hip replacements Coleman regards as the sole determinant of DHB output. Or is Coleman suggesting they sell their hospitals instead?

Oh, actually he is:
He said savings could be made by leasing facilities instead of owning them

Which is just a scam: you end up with a big capital injection (which the government steals for tax cuts), but paying more (which means providing fewer services) in the long-term. But Coleman clearly doesn't care about the long-term: he's probably opted out of the public health system by having private health insurance. And so he sees free public healthcare as a cost, rather than an enormous benefit which enables kiwis to get on with their our without fear of being completely fucked if we get sick.

(See also National's plans to redevelop Dunedin hospital using a public-private partnership: it saves in the short-term, but costs more in the long run. Another scam designed to make the books look good).

We deserve better than National's scams and accounting tricks. We deserve a health system that is properly funded to deliver the services we need. And we won't get that under National.