Nurses 'going home exhausted and in tears' but more health 'savings' loom

Overworked nurses are already ending up in tears and there's no room for any more cuts, says the Nurses Union as the Government asks hospitals to save $138 million this year.

The Health Minister, Jonathan Coleman, says people aren't being sacked, but vacancies won't be refilled. 

The scalpel is out again on public health spending, with DHBs told to trim nearly $140 million. Source: 1 NEWS

Health professionals ONE News has spoken to say either way it's going to put pressure on those workers who are left and the standard of health care New Zealanders get won't be as good. 

"What it's meaning for nurses who talk to me is days running without a break, having to stay longer to get work done and going home exhausted and in tears. And that just doesn't make sense for staff or patients," said Grant Brooks of the Nurses Union.

"After six years of cuts, we're reaching the bone. There is no more room for any more cuts to health funding." 

Dr Coleman says latest District Health Board budget targets are "not cuts, they're reprioritisations".

We've got millions of hours owing in leave - Labour's health spokesperson, Annette King

"It's good that DHBs are looking at making savings and reinvesting those into frontline services," he said.

Labour's health spokesperson, Annette King, said: "I believe that they've squeezed the lemon so hard with health that they are now down to the pips."

Three-thousand Auckland health workers went on strike late last year, claiming the system was at breaking point due to underfunding and under-staffing.

The minister says the overall health budget increased by $400 million last year and it's up to DHBs to choose where savings are made this year.

"You've got to reprioritise spending where it's going to have the greatest effect." 

Labour says the only way to do that without cutting services is to slash jobs, even though there aren't enough staff to go around now.

"They're having staff that cannot take leave and we've got millions of hours owing in leave. There's what they call care rationing, so nurses being unable to provide the level of care that they would like," Ms King said.

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