Workers gather outside Christchurch hospital to protest proposed staffing cuts that are part of the $56.9m savings plan approved by the board last week. Or at least, what’s left of the board – 7 of the 11 members have now resigned, what can only be seen as a mass exodus of leadership in the context of a steadily imploding regional health system.
For the public, this may be shocking, it may look media catastrophizing, it may just be too hard to comprehend and process on top of everything 2020 has thrown at us so far. But sadly, for health workers this is our reality. Long before Covid-19 brought public health concerns to the centre of our media and politics, health workers had been struggling with the under-resourcing and short staffing that accompanied decades of silent austerity towards our mental and physical health and disability systems.
And now, in the midst of a global pandemic, the CDHB proposes to slash staff, resources and services in an effort to meet budgets that are well-documented to consistently fall short of the amount actually required to meet health need in our population. Make no mistake, these cuts will have a direct consequence on the health of our most vulnerable people. The public health system was already ill prepared for a covid outbreak after years of under funding by both National and Labour governments, and cuts right now would make the situation even worse when we’re far from out of the water with the pandemic. CDHB staff and health workers around the country are fed up. We are calling for cross-union stop work action around the country in solidarity with CDHB staff and patients, and to show the government that we will not accept austerity like this.