Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Kerre Woodham: A breath of fresh air for our health system

As Mike Hosking and I exchanged morning pleasantries today, I said to him “Wasn't Dr Shane Reti a breath of fresh air?”

“Breath of fresh air?” said Mike, “He was a howling Nor Westerly of fresh air!”

And by crikey, he was. Even those who didn't vote National must surely appreciate that here is a knowledgeable, passionate man in charge of his portfolio. He is under no illusions that New Zealand's health system is in dire straits. But he also understands that the system is absolutely underpinned by he tangata, he tangata, he tangata - the people, the people, the people.

Compare that with one of the former health ministers, Andrew Little, who just flatly refused to concede that the health system was in crisis.

The most he could manage to choke out was that we had a health system that was under major pressure and had major challenges. Initially, he didn't put nurses or midwives on the fast-track residency pathway list, kept saying we've got hordes of nurses lined up to be with us.

Hordes of them.

That's just simply not true. The New Zealand Nurse Organisation said it was flabbergasted nurses weren't included on that list, and he took a swipe at the Nurses Organisation. You know, the very people he's supposed to be working for and with.

Of course, as previous health ministers have found, words are easy, it is actions that count. And while it's fantastic that Doctor Reti has the safety of ED staff top of mind, how he will ensure that safety is another matter, security guards have limited powers. To really protect staff we'd need a police officer or two in every ED.

Still, when you see the number who were babysitting the gangsters on their way to Bird's funeral in Foxton, we clearly have officers available. It's just where their bosses choose to deploy them.

But to get back to the positives, it's the messaging I'm loving. You know, Dr Reti said it's broken. We've got a health system that's broken. He doesn't want any more seismic upheavals, he said the staff are exhausted, they've gone through Covid massive changes, a government that was on the back foot when it came to recruiting from overseas. Any more massive changes and I imagine that will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

You also get the fabulous message that you will not treat people who want to help you with disrespect and violence. It is not acceptable to do so. The honesty and the authenticity in Dr Reti’s interview was a signal to us all that henceforth, basic decency is expected of members of the community. And there will be consequences if you cannot dredge up that decency from deep within you.

Amen. Doctor Reti. Amen.

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

Kerre, I agree. You have touched on one aspect, the health system. I also agree that little and chippy were the one 2 kiwis who thought the health system was just fine.
This part is just my opinion, but with the change of govt in less than 1 week, the mood of the whole country appears to have lifted. My customers appear happier, I'm happier, there seems to be less crime, less ram raids, less agro....I have not seen my local pak and save staff beaten up or threatened, which I have witnessed in the past. Also, I have not been threatened in my job....refreshing for sure.

Mind you we are lifting off such a low base that it's not hard to be happy. Labour destroyed nz in such a short period of time that we must commit as kiwis never to allow such destructive racist incompetents back ever again.

Doug Longmire said...

As a recently retired health care worker (pharmacist) I can totally support Dr Reti's concerns.
The workforce is under incredible stress as many pharmacists are leaving the procession to go to Australia or to simply work in a lower stress, higher paid job.