After his dual reality holiday, you would think the man would do his best to keep himself out of the foot-shooting arena. But no, this week he has reneged on a promise to keep health funding in line with inflation, should he become Prime Minister.

 “Luxon previously committed to at a minimum increasing health funding to keep pace with inflation if he becomes Prime Minister.”  The Unions representing healthcare have, naturally, come out fighting and are “appalled” at the about-face. 

To be fair, how can the National Party commit to any spending promises at this time when Ardern and Robertson are still shovelling money into the bottomless pit they have dug and are now looking for ways to refill it with our taxes? As they continue to lead us into an unknown and uncertain future?

So, why did Christopher Luxon not keep schtum? Why score yet another own goal? He again makes himself look foolish and provides even more ammunition for the Labour party and the healthcare Unions. Social media comments have been quick to condemn him.

“We are going to increase the health and education budget each and every year that we are in Government,” Luxon initially said on Wednesday. And later he modified the vehement “absolutely” to a flip-flop, Mr have-a-bob-both-ways, to “”I can tell you for many years it will probably be ahead of inflation, some years it might be behind but over the long run we are going to be increasing health and education consistently each and every year that we are in Government. So people shouldn’t be concerned about that.” 

‘Appalled’: Unions lash out at Luxon after he backtracks on health funding promise (msn.com)

Well, people already are concerned about that.  It took just 31 minutes for the Healthcare Unions’ response to be reported by the MSM.

His statement regarding the variability is inevitably going to be correct, but his assured “absolutely” didn’t leave him any wriggle room.  A succinct, one-word pledge that he then watered down.

Chris Hipkins wasted no time in responding.

“Hipkins later called Luxon’s apparent U-turn a “gaffe” and “more evidence that you can’t really trust [National]”.

“Well, they clearly don’t have a clear and consistent position,” he said.

“You’ve got the finance spokesperson, the senior MP and their leader all saying different things about whether or not they will actually invest in health and education so that those systems can continue to rebuild and move forward as opposed to go backwards, which is what happened when they were last in government.” 

National’s Christopher Luxon clarifies comments suggesting backtrack on health, education spending promise | Newshub

The PSA waded into the argument. 

“The Public Service Association hit out at the politician on Wednesday saying the healthcare system shouldn’t be used as a political football.”

“Our health system needs sustained investment, and we need political parties to acknowledge and commit to the investment that is needed,” PSA national secretary Kerry Davies said. 

“We understand that different parties may have different ideas about where that investment is needed most, but we are sure that all would agree that health is a top priority for our society. 

“New Zealanders and health workers do not want their health or profession being used as a political football.”

And on the front line, “[…] Middlemore Hospital theatre orderly Taatahi Phillips who said he and his colleagues are very concerned about what a National Government would mean for them.”

“We still have a way to go, but we have seen a massive pay increase under Labour. The old regime was broken, and they are fixing it. Labour might be getting the blame because everyone wants problems fixed tomorrow, but we are in a lot better position than we were,” Phillips said. 

“We are finally starting to see the positives of the new money that has been invested in the new health system. It might still be in the teething stage, but it is real progress.”

“We really do dread what will happen if National gets in. If we start going backwards again, well, I don’t know what to say. My daughter says ‘Dad, come over to Australia’. Any more cuts will just make the brain drain worse.”

Unions lash out at Christopher Luxon after he backtracks on health funding promise | Newshub

Mr Luxon seems not too smart or politically savvy.  He opens his mouth and puts both feet in it, time after time after time.

The polls are tightening the screws on Jacinda Ardern and her talent-free outfit and a credible, careful, factually correct alternative is what the country needs to have to believe in if we are to find our way out of the economic quagmire in which we have been placed. But Mr Luxon is not proving to be that. He is proving flaky, unreliable, and now a worry, not just to the healthcare workers who fear funding cuts under National party governance, but also to a population which is already concerned about the availability of health care. 

The healthcare system is in a shocking state and the public is worried.  The Covid management in our public health system has been appalling. Deaths were and are measured variously to suit as “of” or “with” Covid, but there is another category that will likely overtake both of those: “because of” Covid. 

So-called elective surgeries postponed indefinitely, testing not carried out, patients left in pain and in limbo and dying on waiting lists.  These are the “because of Covid” victims. 

Healthcare has become unavailable because we saw billions squandered on fripperies instead of real money for real outcomes of increased services. We did not get this. We saw staff mandated out of their jobs and there is no end to this nonsensical farce in sight.  Bring them back.

The rationing of healthcare has also been discussed recently by a Christchurch surgeon, Saxon Connor in an excellent opinion piece published on Stuff, on July 28th.

“There is now widespread disruption to the provision of hospital-based healthcare across Aotearoa.”

“The underlying cause is not simply the increased demand from the COVID-19 and influenza.”

“This is healthcare’s climate change moment.”

“Currently, health is self-destructing as the very heart of the system – health workers – are failing due to burn out, moral distress and lack of guidance on maintaining sustainability.”

“As a nation we have accepted significant and sustained rationing of workforce training the heart of healthcare.”

“There is now a widespread shortage of critical frontline staff, a lack of fit for purpose infrastructure and increased demand due to an ageing population.”

“We need to agree a process for allocating resources through deliberative democracy or citizen juries with a wide representation of stakeholders. This will allow those working in healthcare to apply agreed principles in a fair, consistent and ethical manner. This process should be independent of political influence.”

Life Support: Do we need a better system for rationing healthcare? | Stuff.co.nz

Well, of course, political interference is the name of the game and healthcare is not the place for prevarication and equivocation. The 2023 election cannot come fast enough, but please, Christopher Luxon, get your house in order: become an aspirational politician and credible party leader rather than just being the ex-CEO of a small airline.

KSK

KSK has a Master of Management degree from the University of Auckland. She has a business management background following many years in the medical field. She is a former business mentor with Business...