Austerity rips through local health services

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A protest inside and outside of the Capital and Coast District Health board this morning is demanding the reinstatement of funding for Newtown Union Health.

The government claims that it is not running an austerity budget, but the reality is that funding cuts to local services like Newtown Union Health and others across the country mean that there is a significant reduction in the services being offered.

Spokeswoman for United Community Action Network (UCAN) Debby Leyland said that 'the cuts were happening across the board and the vulnerable were going to once again fall through the cracks.' The CCDHB is afraid of further protests and has denied the ability of UCAN to speak at the start of their board meeting usually reserved for the public.

'At Newtown Union' she said, '$278,000 of their budget was cut and the waiting list to see a doctor was now three weeks. The crisis so bad that when some people come in with a both a physical and mental issue to discuss, doctors and nurse practicioners have only time to address one of the issues.'

'The entire midwifery service has been cut from Newtown Union,' she said.

There is signficant evidence to support the view that cutting funding from Newtown Union will simply shift the problems onto the Hospital across the road.

The Nurses Union were conducing a minute of silence in solidarity with the UCAN protest.

During the meeting, a hospital doctor gave a presentation about diabeties care. In it, he repeatedly mentioned the groundbreaking work of the Newtown Union doctor, Ben Grey. The fanastic work being done by Dr Grey and others at Newtown Union is being rewarded with funding cuts that will rip the guts out of the service.

These cuts to services cannot be seen in isolation and must be placed within the larger context of the slashing of services to the most vulnerable in society, and the building of new prisons.

As an aside, the people who went inside the meeting were attended by hospital security, and this Indymedia reporter was told no photographs were allowed, despite this being a public meeting with elected officials.

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