Hope for new health reforms to boost workers’ pay and conditions

It’s the hope that the Government’s recent proposed reform of the health system will lead to better outcomes in employment conditions for all health workers.

In April, the Government announced that the country’s 20 DHBs will eventually be replaced by a single, centralised public health body, Health New Zealand. It will also set up a specialised Māori Health Authority.

Home support worker and E tū’s Community Support Services Industry Council Convenor Marianne Bishop says the move seems positive.

“Hopefully not having DHBs is going to make things more equitable in healthcare across the country, meaning more money for people’s health and hospitals, and for workers to have better pay and conditions.

“That includes aged care, home support, disability and community support services, and all contracted and directly-employed DHB staff,” she says.

“We’ve really got to wait and see, but it’s very important to have workers’ voices and involve regional experts so that things are fair.”

E tū’s Co-President Muriel Tunoho, who also works in primary health care, says the establishment of a Māori Health Authority is a “huge” step forward.

“It’s never been done before and will prioritise Māori healthcare and outcomes in the context of the Crown’s Te Tiriti obligations.”

The health reform process is expected to take around three years.

E tū is one of the largest unions for health workers, representing more than 15,000 members.

E tū leaders unite against COVID-19

“I had the COVID-19 vaccination recently because of my project work with our patients at the Hutt Union & Community Health Service.

“Many of our 8,000 patients are Māori, Pacific, refugees, and low-income earners.

E tū Co-President Muriel Tunoho after her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

“During lockdown, our doctors and nurses quickly adapted to triage acute patients and use digital tools and telephone consultations to keep everyone safe.

“Our team of community health workers worked from home to phone and check on the health and welfare of our most vulnerable patients and their whānau.

“We took collective action to keep our communities safe and we organised with local Māori and Pacific health providers and agencies to deliver free food and sanitation packs to patients and their whanāu.

“I’m having the COVID-19 vaccination to protect my whānau, other workers, our communities and to get Aotearoa moving safely again.”