Surf life-saver going deaf to deliver 26,000-strong petition
A 22-year-old surf life-saver going deaf will deliver a 26,643-strong petition to Parliament at noon today, on the Parliament forecourt.
The petition calls on Bill English to give Danielle Mackey a publically-funded cochlear implant before she goes completely deaf.
Mackey will deliver the petition to deaf Green MP Mojo Mathers.
The Southern Cochlear Implant Trust (SCIT), which manages cochlear implants below Taupo, put Mackay on a waiting list in December 2015.
But Mrs Mackay says the trust took her off the list in June, despite her going completely deaf in one ear and quickly losing hearing in her other ear.
“It’s been “scary” losing my hearing,” she says. “When I lost hearing in my right ear, I felt lost, and when I started forgetting how to say words, I felt frustrated and depressed.”
Mrs Mackay says she’d rather be spending time saving lives than feeling angry because a lack of funding is stopping her from hearing.
“I just want to be able to hear Tuis, my boyfriend laughing and to just talk with my family over lunch,” she says. “A cochlear implant will help me cope with everyday living and give me a quality of life everyone deserves.”
Mackay says public support has been “overwhelming” and she “had no idea” how much support she’d get.
“Now it’s time to see if Prime Minister Bill English is listening,” she says. “This is his chance to show his support for my right, and everyone’s right, to hear.”
YesWeCare.nz, a health funding coalition of community groups, patients and people working in health, has been supporting Mackay.
Coalition spokesperson Sarah Martin says it’s taking longer and longer for people needing cochlear implants to hear.
Martin says the average waiting time jumped to 20 months this year, up from 14 and 17 months, north and south of Taupo, in 2016.
“It’s a lot worse than government figures show because people like Danielle, who can’t even get on a waiting list, aren’t counted,” she says. “The problem is baseline funding for cochlear implants hasn’t changed for three years meaning there is less help per person every year.”
Mrs Martin says this is a symptom of what the group says is $2.3 billion in health underfunding.
“Funding hasn’t kept up with our ageing and growing population which is why we are seeing more and more Kiwis are falling through the cracks,” she says.
YesWeCare.nz wants the Government to clear the cochlear implant surgery backlog and give everyone an implant who needs and wants one.
It also wants $2.3 billion in funding restored, funding to match annual need, and a national survey into unmet health need.
Waiting times from Associate Minister of Health Nicky Wagner
Attachment for Written Question 5951 (2017)
Average lengths of time that patients are on waiting lists for cochlear implants are outlined in the table below, broken down by cochlear implant trust.
|Year||Northern Cochlear Implant Trust average wait time||Southern Cochlear Implant Trust average wait time|
|2014/15||15 months||16 months|
|2015/16||14 months||17 months|
|2016/17||20 months||20 months|
Funding for Cochlear Implants
|Financial year||Number of people who have received an implant(s)||Funding|
(1 or 2 ears)
|Adults||Baseline annual budget||Additional one-off funding||Total funding|
Sources: QWA 11385(2016) and 11920(2016)
Transcript of Danielle Mackay’s speech
Everyone has the right to hear.
Why should I, or any other Kiwi, have to be on a waiting list for a cochlear implant?
Cochlear implants will let me hear.
How is it fair that I can be taken off a waiting list because I’m told there isn’t enough government funding?
My hearing loss doesn’t change because of how much funding there is.
No one who is losing their hearing should have to wait for something they need.
No one should have to wait until they go deaf to get back on a waiting list.
It’s scary losing your hearing.
When I lost hearing in my right ear I felt lost.
When I started forgetting how to say words I felt frustrated and depressed.
I’m only 22.
I shouldn’t be spending time feeling frustrated, depressed and angry because there isn’t enough government funding.
I shouldn’t be spending time fighting for something I need.
I should be spending my time doing what I love.
I want to spend time being a surf life saver and looking after kids.
I should be spending time doing what others take for granted.
I want to be able to hear Tuis, hear my boyfriend laughing and just talk with my family over lunch.
I want the opportunity to get a good job and study like everyone else.
I want the quality of life everyone deserves.
Having a cochlear implant will help be feel safe.
Having a cochlear implant will help be cope with everyday living and working.
26,643 people agree with me and support my right to hear.
Right now, I don’t think the government does.
But I still have hope.
The public support has been overwhelming and amazing.
I had no idea that I would get so much support.
Thank-you everyone for supporting me.
And thank you Mojo for accepting my petition.
Today, I’m here to deliver that support and my hope.
I believe in my right, and everyone else’s right, to hear.
Now it’s time to see if Prime Minister Bill English is listening.
This is Bill English’s chance to show his support for everyone’s right to hear.
To do that, the government needs to fund a cochlear implant for every Kiwi that needs one.