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Counties Manukau hospital rot uncovers need to reassess government funding

The Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff today said the mould that has been rotting the walls inside Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) buildings for the last six years is just one example of the urgent need for Government to reassess public services revenue and funding.

“It’s a clear example of the combined effect of years of superficial surpluses and pretence that we could afford tax cuts, all the while papering over the crumbling reality of our public assets,” he said.

“This case is just the tip of the iceberg. This Government was already coming in to an environment of billions of dollars of underfunding in health, which has manifested in short staffing levels despite an increasing population with increasing health needs.”

“On top of known underfunding, we’re going to find deferred maintenance and shoddy purchasing decisions becoming visible in other hospitals and health services, and indeed wider public services like our schools.”

“The Chief Executive of CMDHB was very clear – essential maintenance was deferred to make the previous year’s Government balance sheets look better than they should. The Prime Minister has realised that underfunding in health goes even deeper than she expected when taking office. Mould is a visible symptom in our buildings, but it’s also visible in the unmet need for care in our community and the stress and burnout visible in health staff.”

“The responsible way to deal with any crisis is to reassess your game plan. This Government has committed not to present rosy budget figures at the expense of our people and our public assets. Our political leadership must now reconsider the restrictive Budget Responsibility Rules plan and whether their revenue is sufficient to gut and repair the rot that’s built up in public services.”

“Kiwis value our hospitals, schools and other public services that keep us healthy and happy. They voted at the last general election for a fresh approach that puts the needs of people before artificial economic spin. Now’s the time to put that into practice.”