21 days of action to save our public healthcare

I’m luckily generally pretty healthy, which I’m very thankful for. Before I became involved in the campaign to restore funding for our healthcare system I hadn’t thought much about what would happen if I do need medical help. As I haven’t had much to do with the health system I just assumed it will be there when I need it.

But the closer I look the more I’ve realised our healthcare system is in crisis. Every day stories emerge of longer waiting lists, higher demands on services and people just unable to afford a GP. A recent damning report says that 1 in 4 of us are unable to get the primary care we need because we can’t see a GP, while hundreds of thousands of people in this country have a need for specialist care, such as surgery for a hip replacement, which is not being met.

At ActionStation we believe every single New Zealander — regardless of their age, income, postcode or ethnic background — should have access to quality affordable healthcare when and where they need it.

The leaders of the ‘Save our public health’ campaign are all volunteers with a passion to save our healthcare. Some have personal experience of the problems facing the health system and others work or have worked in hospitals and have seen first hand the importance of quality care to everyday New Zealanders.

Eve is the campaign leader in the Hawkes Bay and this is her story for why she is out on the street to save public healthcare:

“The first surgery that I had for breast cancer took 105 days from referral from my GP and I believe that’s far too long, it’s putting women at risk. The second surgery I had that was planned for me that I would have benefited from took three and a half years to get surgery but the surgeon said to me we cannot offer you that surgery because there just simply is not enough funding.”

Watch Eve here.

She is out every weekend this month to talk to people about health, and seek support for her campaign. She says of her campaign, “I went outside the Mission concert last weekend and got an amazing amount of signatures … I’m going to try outside the Gypsy fair this weekend. Just be brave even if you are on your own. Lots of people just walk up and say ‘yes, I will sign that’.

The people working in the health system do amazing work but I’ve been hearing stories from this campaign that shouldn’t be allowed to happen in a country such as ours. Since 2010 our government has kept healthcare funding static, meaning it is at lower levels in proportion to GDP, to the extent that $1.85 billion is missing from the total health budget.

We have 21 days, just three weeks to support our local campaign leaders and get as many signatures as we can. Are you able to help?

Why 21 days? Our campaign leaders are looking to deliver their individual petitions to their MP before the May Budget, on 25 May.

The best part of my role as ActionStation’s Community Campaign Manager is meeting the people who are behind our campaigns. I met Hamish last month, the enthusiastic local campaign leader in Auckland, featured in this video by our campaign partners YesWeCare. YesWeCare have just completed a two month roadshow to every town and city in New Zealand listening to people’s stories of the health problems facing them and their region.

Every region faces its own issues. Waikato campaign leader Ravaani says:

“Health is a basic human need and in this country and in this country it’s a basic human right. I’m a consumer of health services, I also work in the health and disabilities sector myself. I meet the people who aren’t able to be working, or working as many hours as they want to anymore, because they can’t get their health needs met — because there just isn’t enough funding to go around, needs have increased and our population has increased.”

Watch Ravaani here.

It’s not just 1 in 4 people who will not get the care they need, but it’s my dad in his 70’s who may need something in the next few years, or those already under pressure from high living costs and daily stresses who are affected even more.

ActionStation is much more than a petition platform, it’s a community of people with friendly faces and passion for a cause. All of us can help, and would choose to live in a kinder country. If you’d like to help restore adequate funding for our essential health system, join the 21 days of action here. [link]

GET INVOLVED

You don’t need experience, just some time, enthusiasm and a passion to save our public healthcare. ActionStation will support you with tips and resources. You can:

1. Help collect signatures: download the petition form for your local area from www.saveourpublichealth.com

2. Share this event and latest health news with your friends #savepublichealth #21daysofaction (use: “1 in 9 Kiwis can’t afford a GP. I’m part of an exciting campaign to ensure every Kiwi gets the healthcare they need. Show you care too.”)

3. Post a photo on the Facebook event page of yourself in action — collecting signatures, or outside your local hospital with a #saveourpublichealth sign.

4. Can you help our local campaign leaders get signatures? Email eliot@actionstation.org.nz to connect with other local volunteers.

5. Can you help organise a local event? Email eliot@actionstation.org.nzwith your ideas.

Eliot, ActionStation Community Campaign Manager