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Kate Hawkesby: It's not right that we have to stop and think about what healthcare is available to us

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Thu, 1 Dec 2022, 8:52AM
Andrew Little. Photo / NZ Herald
Andrew Little. Photo / NZ Herald

Kate Hawkesby: It's not right that we have to stop and think about what healthcare is available to us

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Thu, 1 Dec 2022, 8:52AM

I think one of the great travesties of this Government, when we eventually look back on their long line of failures, will be what happened to mental health.

Don’t get me wrong, no government from what I can see, has ever got mental health right, it’s forever been a sector in dire straits, under resourced and woefully misunderstood.

But mental health itself has only become bigger and worse as the years has gone by, and arguably peaking as a real crisis now, post the pandemic.

And yet, the Government that promised to fix it – has not. Not even close. So much for the Wellbeing Budget.

It’s not like they haven’t thrown money at it – it's just no one seems to know where that money’s gone. And then we learn yesterday that, “a half-billion-dollar programme to deliver better community and primary mental health care is still failing to reach tens of thousands of people,” according to reports.

So $600 million was doled out to the Access and Choice mental health programme, yet lack of staff has meant they just haven’t been able to reach people.

They're "around 36,000 people short of the target,” it was reported. It’s a perfect storm of increased demand coupled with lack of staff.

We know that when it comes to acute beds, we don’t have a single extra one since this Government came to power in 2017. So when it comes to targets, we’re missing them on a lot of fronts.

It’s a similar scene in terms of healthcare in general; the lack of GPs and nurses, the wait times at ED departments.

The wait times are actually so bad that most sensible people seek to avoid ED entirely if they can. One of our kid's broke a toe the other day and the first thing I said was - don't go to an emergency department.

That's how bad it is, and has been a for a while actually. Now when accidents happen or kids are sick, parents are stopping to question whether it's worth going to an ED, given they know they won't get seen for several hours, given the hospitals are so snowed under and under resourced.

It's a crying shame that in a first world country, our healthcare system has come to this.

As it turned out, the broken toe needed an X-ray which then needed follow up with the GP, and then a referral to a specialist for a splint shoe to support it.

And while we were lucky to get to a GP we were not so lucky to get the support shoe sorted, given they informed us they had a two week backlog of people waiting already.

So what happens to a broken toe that can't be walked on or supported for two weeks? Nothing. You just have to ride it out apparently. And that's the state of our healthcare.

GPs say they’re beyond frustrated, but what can you do? That appears to be what every nurse, doctor, orderly and hospital worker is asking these days, what can they do?

It just doesn’t feel right that when it comes to ill health physical or mental, that you have to stop and think about what resources you can actually tap into, and once you’ve done that, what might actually be available to you.

Worse yet, is a Health Minister who won’t acknowledge it’s a crisis in the first place, when all those of us experiencing it at any level, know that clearly it is.

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