Thousands of Kiwis eligible for taxpayer-funded Hepatitis C drug aren't accessing it

Thousands of New Zealanders who are eligible for a taxpayer funded Hepatitis C drug are not accessing it as they don't know it exists.

There are more than 50,000 people in New Zealand have Hepatitis C and a staggering half of them, 25,000, are thought to be undiagnosed.

The drug Viekira Pak is used to treat Hepatitis C and claims to have a 95 per cent cure rate.

The drug became fully funded by taxpayers in 2016 and since then 2,500 have been treated.

Around 9,000 people who are eligible for the drug have not come forward.

Hepatitis C is carried by the blood and can be picked up by those who have injected drugs, received a tattoo or piercing which isn't sterile, been in prison, or had a blood transfusion before 1992.

Pharmac Deputy Medical Director, Dr Bryan Betty says: "If you do have Hepatitis there is now an effective cure for the disease. So yes there is a lot of activity going on in this sector to actually raise awareness about the need for testing for high risk patients."

There are more than 50,000 people in NZ diagnosed with the illness. Source: 1 NEWS

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Solo mum with $30k debt not a unique case, budget advisor says

A solo mother burdened with $30,000 of debt for household items she doesn't need isn't a unique case, an Auckland budget advisor says.

Adrienne Gallie, from the Pakuranga and Howick Budgeting Service, introduced RNZ News to one of her clients this week after the Government announced a crackdown on loan sharks.

Ms Gallie said while the measures target the very worst lenders with the highest interest rates, they don't do anything to rein in other non-bank lenders.

One of her clients, Rachel*, is a solo mother-of-two originally from the Philippines.

The Government is cracking down on loan sharks and truck shops who sometimes prey on financially-vulnerable people. Source: 1 NEWS

She racked up $30,000 of debt through loans her husband took out to buy a new television and bed, and now works two jobs to keep on top of the debt.

Rachel said she'd never been in debt before she came to New Zealand.

"I don't have my family here so it's very difficult and I don't have anyone to rely on," Rachel said.

She works 13 out of 14 days to keep to a tight budget schedule and provide for her children; earning more than $1100 a week if she manages the hours.

But $500 of that goes to rent and $200 to debt repayments.

"That's why I wanted to work more because I don't want them to be deprived of their needs so as much as possible I wanted to provide everything that my two children need."

Rachel came to New Zealand as a student in 2010 and soon met her future husband.

He used her credit cards because he had bad credit and he told Rachel he would pay them off.

But he didn't and left her - and the debt.

She cancelled the card and paid off the debt but that wasn't the end of the story.

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said Winston Peters is on board in clamping down on predatory lending. Source: Q+A

"He came back to me and promised me we'd be together again. He wanted to buy something for me because I'm so tired everyday. He wanted to buy a good bed but my bed has no problems."

She said she didn't have any problems opening the cards again because she had paid the previous debt.

"They granted them to me again but then I had the same problem; he paid the payments twice and then stopped repaying them. That's the reason I got this debt and why I'm still paying it off."

Rachel said she came to Adrienne with $30,000 of debt and has now managed to wrangle it down to $20,000 through a KiwiSaver withdrawal and a strict payment schedule.

"Before I was so stressed with it and frustrated but what can I do? I need to pay it back because it's my debt. Now it's a relief because Adrienne is assisting me."

Rachel said she knew she didn't need the things her husband bought but she loved him and trusted him with her cards.

Ms Gallie said it's not uncommon for people to amass debt through a relationship.

"That's also something that we see a lot of; people taking on debt because other people had bad credit records," she said.

Ms Gallie said predatory lenders have long been overlooked and the Government's planned crack down doesn't go far enough.

"I'm appalled by it and that's why I was really hoping that the Government would use this opportunity to do massive robust, bold reform and actually close down the pay lending industry."

Rachel said she's tired and often takes her own sick days to look after her youngest child, who has asthma.

When she does this, her budget doesn't work and she has to reach out to Ms Gallie for food parcels, she said.

*Rachel isn't her real name

- By Anneke Smith 
rnz.co.nz

A 100 per cent interest and fees cap is among moves to stop the vulnerable spiralling into debt. Source: 1 NEWS

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Coroner finds young man killed in Lower Hutt was behind wheel, intoxicated, in smash

A Coroner has once again warned young people about the dangers of driving while drunk or impaired by cannabis.

In findings issued today, Tim Scott has ruled that Leyton-Leigh Alderson, who died in a road smash in Lower Hutt in June 2015 was, on the balance of probabilities, driving the vehicle at the time.

Mr Alderson, his friend Beau McMenamin and a young woman had all been at a party in Wainuiomata before the crash.

Coroner Scott said neither of the young men should have been driving as they were either intoxicated or "well on the way to being so".

Mr Alderson's blood alcohol reading was twice the legal limit and blood taken from Beau McMenamin, while he was being treated at Lower Hutt Hospital for his injuries revealed he was similarly intoxicated.

The police initially charged Beau McMenamin with drunk driving causing death, but the charge was thrown out after an independent pathologist and crash investigation found evidence that Mr Alderson was driving.

Mr McMenamin subsequently sought costs from police and was awarded $9000 to cover the costs he had incurred in fighting the charge.

At the inquest in June, Mr McMenamin said he remembered the car sliding out of control as it approached a bridge and the next thing he recalled was being in hospital.

Mr McMenamin told the court he had been in the back seat when the crash occurred and denied the suggestion by Mr Alderson family's lawyer Elizabeth Hall that he was just saying that to avoid responsibility.

The young woman in the car had supported Mr McMenamin's description of the car being driven by Mr Alderson, as Coroner Scott explained in his Findings.

"It is possible [Beau McMenamin] might be motivated to fudge the truth in order to avoid legal and/or moral responsibility for the crash.

"However, [the young woman involved] could have no such motivation. She was friendly with Leyton and was his cousin. After the crash, she extracted Leyton from the car. She pulled him to a place of safety and remained with him although sadly he was deceased...

"In my mind [she] had no possible motive to protect Beau. Conversely, she had every possible motive to protect Leyton by casting responsibility upon Beau, but she did not do so."

Coroner Scott said three pathologists who reviewed the case all agreed, on the balance of probabilities, that Mr Alderson was mostly likely to have been the driver.

"They have reached this conclusion for a number of reasons and prominent amongst them was that they all considered that the place of most risk in the car was the driver's seat.

"All the pathologists refer to lower leg injuries suffered by Leyton ... and said these were typical of front seat injuries."

Coroner Scott said it was hardly surprising that Mr Alderson lost control of the car, as it was in a poor condition, with rear tyres that had worn through beyond their metal reinforcing belts.

"He was effectively driving at twice the legal blood alcohol limit. He was driving the car fast. When he lost control of the car it impacted three times and rolled over at least once.

"It was very badly damaged and the engine compartment separated from the cab and the rear of the car."

A pathologist determined Mr Alderson died as a result of multiple injuries, in particular a non-survivable head injury.

Coroner Scott said the car was being driven way from a party where alcohol and cannabis were consumed, presumably to deliver the occupants home, a situation he described as a "classic no no".

"If the car was to be driven it should have been in a safe condition and it should have been driven by a sober driver."

He said alternative means of transport were available to those in the car.

"There is reference to Beau having at least $20 used to purchase petrol. It is possible that [others in the car] may also have had funds available," he said.

"Presumably a taxi could have been called to transport the occupants of the car home."

Coroner Scott offered his sincere condolences to all members of Mr Alderson's family.

rnz.co.nz

Leyton-Leigh Alderson, who died in a road smash in Lower Hutt in June 2015, was ruled to be the driver. Source: rnz.co.nz

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'About 2000 people short' - meat industry looks overseas as it struggles to fill vacancies

The meat industry, one of New Zealand's largest employers, is looking offshore to fill the gaps of a major labour shortage, a far cry from its heyday when it had no problems finding workers.

Murray Taggart, chairman of meat company Alliance, told 1 NEWS that on any one day the company will have more than 100 vacancies it's struggling to fill at its largest plant, Lorneville, which has 1700 employees.

Meat Industry Association chairman Tim Ritchie said the association has done a survey of its member companies, "and at that peak season we believe we're about 2000 people short".

The shortage has prompted Alliance to look offshore, saying there aren't enough Kiwis to fill the gap, or that those who are applying aren't fit for purpose.

Mr Taggart said New Zealanders are the company's first preference, "but we're in a safety sensitive environment, so they have to be people that can turn up in fit state for work".

While it supports the move in some regions, the Meat Workers Union isn't convinced.

"If we took a look at the Southland area, Alliance had two-and-a-half times more applicants than they had vacancies for the 2017-18 season," said Daryl Carran of Meat Workers Union, Otago-Southland.

Alliance says the move is not about saving money, citing bigger costs to hire overseas applicants.

The company says the fact that it's seasonal work, sometimes employing workers for just seven months of the year has job seekers looking elsewhere.

Tim Ritchie said it's a seasonal industry "and it's not an industry that people naturally want to come and work in".

The union wants more incentives to attract Kiwis. 

"The commentators in Southland that are making those claims seem to have one common denominator, and that is that they actually tend to pay low wages," Mr Carran said.

Alliance is looking for staff overseas, saying there are not enough Kiwis to fill the gaps, or those that are applying aren’t up to scratch. Source: 1 NEWS


'New set of memories for a new generation' – five-storey, $92 million library opens in Christchurch

Christchurch's new $92 million central library has opened to the public.

Thousands turned out for a first look through Tūranga, which sits next to Cathedral Square.

The five-storey building expands on the traditional idea of a library, adding robots, recording studios, playgrounds and technology to its wide range of books.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says it could be a much-needed boost for the heart of the city.

"Tūranga will create a new set of memories for a new generation in a way I would never have dreamed as a child. It is much more than a library and I think it’s going to transform the central city," she said

"It's a massive game changer in terms of giving people of all ages and interests a reason to come into the centre of town and giving them an inspirational place to meet, learn, create and discover."

The library was gifted the name by the people of Ngāi Tūāhuriri. Tūranga was the name where their ancestor lived and now reflects the libraries new home in the heart of the city.

It took an extra three years and millions in funding, but Tūranga will change the face of modern-day libraries. Source: 1 NEWS