ED nurse takes to road with ‘underfunding’ campaign
3 March 2017
Nico Woodward was about to start a new job but said he decided it was more important to grab the chance to advocate for patients by joining the 25 day roadshow. The YesWeCare.nz campaign is a coalition of health unions representing 83,000 health workers between them that is lobbying for more health funding in the lead-up to the September election.
Thirty-two-year-old Woodward said like most nurses he went into the profession to help people and found it distressing that understaffing meant he was unable to do the job he was trained to do. He started practising in 2010 and first worked in a community accident and emergency clinic before starting working in a public hospital orthopaedic ward and then into his current field of emergency department nursing.
“We are supposed to be advocates for our patients and I feel I can be an advocate for New Zealand healthcare services and by extension patients by highlighting the problems.” He pointed to the YesWeCare.nz survey, that nearly 6000 health workers took part in, which showed that nine out of ten believed the health system did not have the staff or resources to give Kiwis the healthcare “they need when they need it”. (See earlier story)
Woodward said he when he worked 12 hours shifts in ED he would start the shift running and basically ran most of the 12 hours apart from the breaks that he could grab. “The level of care that you can provide people – the time you can actually spend with individual patients is drastically reduced….it is just the bare minimum as you’ve got such a high patient load.”
“We used to have a world class health system that everybody was proud of,” said Woodward. “And the colleagues that I work with – I cannot fault them – they do an amazing job. But they do an amazing job in a very constrained environment.”
“I’m definitely not turned off nursing – it’s my chosen profession and I will be going back to it but if I can make some difference by going on this road show then I’m totally keen and am ready to put nursing aside for the moment to do this.”
Woodward said the Public Service Association (PSA), the union coordinating the campaign, is covering his expenses during the roadshow from Bluff to Cape Reinga.
He said during the 36 town road show the focus would turn on sharing local health workers experiences and stories of the impact of health funding in their region.
The campaign is arguing that government health funding needs to be boosted by $1.8 billion in May to restore health funding levels to what they were in 2009-10.
Council of Trade Union economist Bill Rosenberg said the extra $1.8 billion (on top of funding allocated to Vote Health by the Government in last year’s Budget) was calculated as the Budget 2017 increase needed to restore health operational funding in 2017-18 to the same level of GDP (gross domestic product) as it was in 2009-2010.*
The YesWeCare campaign is the local arm of a global campaign, Public Health for All, run by the Public Service International (PSI).
*Rosenberg said the $1.8 billion estimate didn’t include capital needs and was based on a Treasury estimate of GDP in 2018.