Labour knew the health system was run down five years ago. They campaigned in 2017 on a promise to pour more money in.
It's now in a worse state.
Middlemore is paying local GPs $1400 an hour to open at the weekends to take pressure off the emergency department.
A woman reportedly died last week waiting for a doctor in Middlemore. She went in with a severe headache that should've been seen in an hour. The delay was eight hours. She went home in frustration. She came back in an ambulance and later died of a brain bleed.
In Waikato Hospital's ED, a stroke victim was made to wait hours. He left after six hours. The hospital has now apologised to him.
Wellington hospitals are handing out vouchers for after-hour care at GPs, again, to take pressure off the ED. Surgeries are now delayed by six weeks. They don't have enough staff.
Palmerston North hospital nurses have issued a health and safety alert. They say they're so understaffed it's unsafe.
One Auckland GP told the Herald he saw 62 patients on Monday in the time he should only have seen 20.
This is what "coping" looks like. Because, according to the Health Minister Andrew Little the health system is under pressure but it's coping.
Few of us will agree. Delaying surgeries and people dying possibly because of delays doesn't look like coping. Some will not forgive Labour for letting it get this bad. Not when they knew it was bad already in 2017.
The pandemic reminded us how much we need the health system. We looked around the world as Covid swept through unguarded countries and overwhelmed their health systems and felt grateful we had time to prepare for it.
And yet we are unprepared. And actually worse off now.
The Government should've brought in more staff. They said they would. But health workers found they couldn't get spaces in MIQ. When spaces were set aside for health workers it was woefully late and far too few. Only 300 MIQ spaces a month and only from October last year.
Nurses are still not on the highest priority migrant list. They're on the B-list, forced to work two years for residency when civil engineers get it the minute they land. It's an unnecessary obstacle for globally in-demand nurses who are being offered sweet deals by other countries.
The nurses we have are fighting for more pay. They've been fighting since 2018. The sticking point is the back pay they say they're owed which the Government doesn't want to pay.
Some are now quitting to go to Australia where they get decent money. They're being actively poached by recruiters from across the Tasman.
Migrant doctors have been allowed to quit and go home. They moved here but then sat in limbo. They couldn't get visas approved. It meant they couldn't buy houses or open KiwiSaver accounts. In the end, New Zealand was too hard for them. There are easier and more welcoming places.
Labour doesn't have the excuse of saying they didn't know this was happening. Or that they were busy elsewhere.
Covid was the biggest global event in a generation. It went on for two years. Health was front of mind for all of us, including for the 9th floor. Yet, Labour allowed a run-down health system to become more run down.
The only thing Labour can truly claim that they've done for health is to scrap the DHBs and centralise the system. It needs to be done but it is by far and away not the most urgent thing. The most urgent thing is getting more doctors and nurses into our hospitals.
We'll make it through winter. We always do. But we'll do it on the sweat and tears and long hours of Kiwi health workers. And maybe we'll lose some Kiwis who didn't need to die if only there were enough nurses and doctors to see them. And Labour will have no excuse for not fixing a problem they knew existed five years ago.
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive, Newstalk ZB, 4pm-7pm, weekdays.