Generally, I’m not in favor of selling off something that our taxes have helped to build – after all, I payed those taxes, same as you, even though I didn’t need the services. But in the case of New Zealand’s healthcare system, I have to come out and say it: privatization will save us. The government can’t really afford to maintain the current healthcare system, despite the fact that it offers an excellent quality of service – the problem is that the wait times for public health services are getting outrageously long, and the best healthcare in the world can’t save you if you don’t get it in time.
This op-ed post was contributed by notable Tory healthcare reform activist Tracy Williams, who has been working as a private duty RN for a long time, and published a number of articles on the healthcare jobs topics, for everything from nursing informatics jobs to international nursing jobs.
There’s more to the current healthcare system’s problems than just the fact that wait times are getting too long and the expense of maintaining the system is growing almost as fast – as if those problems weren’t enough! No, the real problem behind the service is that it’s starting to lose quality in favour of the private clinics! Many kiwis don’t realize it, but as a registered nurse working in the public health system, your wages come in one of 5 fixes steps – and that’s all you can ever get. No matter how skilled you are, or how much experience you rack up, you’ll never be able to pass that top tier of salary. How can that possibly compete with a private clinic willing to dangle the prospect of a 50% salary increase, especially when it’s the exact same registered nurse’s job description! Sometimes, nursing staff can make almost double their public sector wages by moving to a private clinic.
Of course, there are dedicated nurses and doctors still fighting the good fight for public healthcare because they believe it’s the right thing to do, and I don’t want to insult them. They are good people, but they can do good work and get paid better by working privately! It takes a supreme effort of will to deny that level of temptation, even among those medically and morally gifted.
We should follow something closer to the American model – but a hybrid version. We don’t want to deny care to those who are in need, but at the same time, universal health insurance could allow us to combine both worlds. It may be unpopular at first, but gradually private clinics will grow to understand that a larger market becomes healthier, and thus wealthier, allowing them to afford higher and higher qualities of service. It won’t happen overnight, and I’m not so deluded as to believe it will. But no matter what, it’s worth it – and think about how happier all the nurses will be!
An American anesthetist salary can’t possibly be compared to the 60-odd thousand NZD that our public sector nurses make – and once you start crunching the numbers, you’ll see that I’m right. As we mentioned earlier, though, healthcare is a hotbutton issue for kiwis, but many of them don’t have the facts.