First published on This Is Christchurch
So the war of words over Canterbury DHB continues, this time with an interview in The Press today with Lester Levy, claiming Canterbury DHB’s deficit “has grown out of control”. Levy was appointed Crown Monitor to the CDHB board last year and is a former chairman of all three Auckland DHBs. However, the counter claim made by senior clinicians and others working at CDHB is that the organisation has been significantly underfunded over a period of many years since the earthquakes. Obviously CDHB say they have a special case due to the quakes, and we think they do. We feel however there is little more we can add at this stage to what we have posted over the past few days.
The problem is that if the issue is reduced to mere dollars and cents then people have become unimportant. That is the key viewpoint that ASMS has identified in previous experience of working with Lester Levy in Auckland. The government is using this issue as a very heavy lever to, basically, shift the blame from its failure to address its failure to properly fund the CDHB over many years since the earthquakes. One very visible example of this is the failure to replace the public carparking building opposite the hospital which is still an ongoing issue.
The key issue remains whether the Government actually does have a commitment or plan to address the funding problems because that is the key issue that has been identified with Covid-19. It is actually mentioned in the Simpson Report and whilst Government has proposed adopting the report they haven’t specifically referred to the funding issues. As we iterated previously the Government appears to be avoiding having public conversations about important issues to do with the public health system. One clear example from when David Clark was the Minister came up when the Government was considering the need to improve cancer treatment through the provision of linear accelerators (LINACs) around the country that needed to be purchased. Simon Bridges issued a press release saying National would fund the installation of these machines if elected, which prompted a hurried announcement from Clark and Ardern that the coalition government had approved the installation of new LINACs around the country. It should also be remembered that until the Covid-19 issue came up, the coalition government was facing a realistic prospect of being a one term administration, having done poorly in the polls up to that point. People have every reason to question Labour’s performance not just in health but in other key portfolios as well. This is amplified by Labour’s announcement that no policy manifesto will be issued before the election. It’s becoming abundantly clear that this government has made very little effort to even maintain faith with its own supporters, let alone with voters.