Tomorrow night on TV3 there is a documentary about child poverty in New Zealand. I think every New Zealander should see it. It is a very real depiction of how life is for some of our most vulnerable families. The issues raised about child health and well being are ones we all have to take some responsibility for. Stuff has some preview of the content this morning.
More than 100 New Zealand children who died last year would probably have survived had they lived in Japan, Sweden or the Czech Republic, a new documentary shows….Last year, more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital for respiratory infections. Doctors routinely treat cases of rheumatic fever and scabies – diseases now rare in Europe.
It is for these families that Labour has made eliminating child poverty our number one social policy priority. When it comes to avoidable hospital admissions (for issues like skin infections and respiratory illness) the National government has removed reducing them as a priority health target. This is wrong. They have increased by 5,000 between 2007 and 2010. The reason targeting these admissions is important is not only are they a proxy for how many children are in poverty, they are also an indication of lack of access to primary care as these infections should never get to hospital admission status.
Labour will restore the reduction of avoidable hospital admissions as a priority target. We will also make child health a priority by
- enrolling all children with a Well Child provider before birth so that we have continuity of care for all babies
- 24/7 free primary care for all under sixes (and we are funding this, unlike National)
- enhanced B4School Checks and a mop up service at school for those who don’t get them
- requiring District Health Boards to adopt child health implementation plans with nationally agreed measurable outcomes and targets that are monitored by the Ministry of Health.
- developing systems during pregnancy to identify children who are vulnerable, and then ensure that the relevant levels of support are in place to support and optimise parenting.
- strengthening the Health in Schools Programme, including social workers, starting with low decile schools, with the aim of expanding the programme to higher decile schools as resources allow.
- 10 year plan to improve access and affordability of dental care, starting with a package of free dental services for pregnant women.
And the rest of the Childrens Policy agenda that we have released. You can find all the details here.
This is an issue that it is already past time to take decisive action. National do not seem prepared to do it, Labour is.