Day 19 of the Yes We Care roadshow saw us setting up in Botany and in front of Middlemore hospital. Negotiating Auckland traffic was always going to be a challenge, especially driving our oversize transit van and the First Union trailer through the clogged city roads. Being back in Auckland has highlighted the pure volume of people in this city, and is why we’ve got eight stops on the Auckland leg.
Auckland is increasingly rated one of the most expensive cities in the world, so it’s no surprise there’s been an increase in the need being seen by budgeting services. We talked with Vai Harris about the increasing number of people she’s seen recently, and what issues they commonly face. Many of the people she sees have to make tough decisions about where to spend their money. Some choose not to heat their houses in winter, others cut back on food items, wait to see a doctor, or pick and choose what prescriptions to fill out.
These issues have an impact on people’s health. Cold damp homes make and keep people sick, poor diet leads to preventable diseases and obesity. Waiting to see a doctor until people are really sick, puts increased pressure on health staff and leads to worse health outcomes for patients. When people don’t fill out their prescriptions, this delays treatment and makes conditions worse. I’ve worked in places where nurses have given patients the money to fill out their prescriptions, because people haven’t had the money to start their treatment.
I saw this with the increase in prescription fees from $3 to $5 a few years ago. While it may seem a small amount, when people are struggling to pay for the basics, any increase in costs means hard decisions need to be made on what to do without. Unfortunately, that usually means health related costs get deferred first.