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Child poverty doco maker gets behind health cuts fight

Nov 4th, 2012 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Latest News, News

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A “ME, ME, ME” society is pushing filmmaker Bryan Bruce to make a documentary looking at inequality in New Zealand.

The Inside Child Poverty documentary maker told people via Skype at a public forum, above, that the film will be about the increasing gap between rich and poor.

“Do we want to continue with a ‘me, me, me’ society? Or do we all want a chance to do the best we can?” says Mr Bruce, whose poverty documentary caused controversy during last year’s New Zealand parliamentary elections.

Mr Bruce, who grew up in a slum in Edinburgh where his family suffered from health problems, believes better housing would fix half of New Zealand’s health problems and if NZ allows inequality to breed everyone becomes worse off.

The forum, organised by United Community Action Network, attracted 30 people who discussed health, housing and economics and a national referendum.

Support was shown from community health providers at the forum for a nationwide campaign the network is putting together to force a referendum to stop health cuts.

Funding health is important to addressing inequality and funding for people in need is decreasing, says Justine Thorpe, chief executive of Well Health, a Wellington Primary Health Organisation (PHO).

“VLCA [Very Low Cost Access] funded practices are reaching crisis point and cannot continue to meet demand, our resources are reducing and the complexity of need is increasing,” Ms Thorpe says.

She says there were 30 Primary Health Organisations in 2010 compared to 82 in 2001 and the number will keep shrinking.

“Businesses are struggling and it’s the same with medical practices,” she says.

Miss Thorpe and Kathy James, a former GP, both say there is a huge movement towards the privatisation of health clinics in New Zealand because of the debts some of them owe.

Hutt Union & Community Health Service is in debt and if it doesn’t get more funding it will have to close within two years, says manager Sally Nicholls.

Mr Bruce says inequality means worse outcomes for everyone, citing an international study showing that even a rich person in an unequal society will have a shorter life and worse health problems.

PHOs are funded by district health boards and designed to deliver primary healthcare services to the community, in many cases at low cost.

PHO funding to run the New Plymouth youth health service Waves and services at Newtown Union Health are examples of cuts earlier this year to community services.

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