Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman is happy with the way the health system is run, despite protests urging more healthcare staff to be funded.
Coleman was met with a protest organised by the Public Service Association (PSA) outside a public meeting in Glenfield on Auckland’s North Shore on Friday.
The protest was part of the PSA’s Yes We Care campaign, which was travelling the country with 200 life-size cutouts, each the equivalent of 100 health workers, to represent the 20,000 extra healthcare staff needed in New Zealand.
Campaign co-ordinator Simon Oosterman said the aim of the protest was to hold Coleman to account and question him about health funding.
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A survey by YesWeCare.nz found nine in 10 health workers felt they did not have the staff or resources to provide New Zealanders with the care they needed, when they needed it, he said.
But Oosterman said the protest was “fobbed off” and protesters were not allowed inside the public meeting.
Coleman said he was comfortable with the level of public funding in health, but admitted there was always more to do.
“In actual fact, we’ve put in an extra $4.3 billion but they [the PSA] just want more money put in,” he said.
The country could not afford to continue to increase health spending the way Labour wanted it to increase, Coleman said.
It was a tough job balancing all of the requests for increased funding in health, especially with the population ageing and growing, he said.
“People have a greater need for healthcare for a longer period of their lives and, of course, the population’s grown. We’ve got to balance all of these things.”
Coleman said to ensure an affordable healthcare system long-term, there had to be more services in the community, and a greater emphasis on preventative care and early intervention.
But, he said, New Zealanders would never be forced to take out health insurance for their basic health needs.
“Healthcare in New Zealand will always remain free at the point of delivery, funded by the state.”