Hospices around the country are welcoming a funding boost announced this week to ensure their nurses can be paid the same as hospital nurses.
Te Whatu Ora has agreed an $11.5 million annual funding boost for hospices to help resolve the significant pay disparity for nurses working in the sector. The funding rolls out from 1 July as part of Te Whatu Ora’s commitment to reducing pay disparities in the funded community health sectors.
“This is a huge boost for hospices and a very welcome investment in caring for our dying.
The increased fnding will help close the gap in the pay disparity for nurses working in our sector; allowing for salaries, penal rates and other allowances to be met the same as hospital nurses” says Mr Naylor.
Ginny Green, Chief Executive from Otago Community Hospice says the funding increase comes at a crucial time for her service.
“We are finishing the current year with a deficit, largely due to moving to comparative pay rates for nurses and the overall increase in cost pressures. This boost will make a material difference in the short term until a sustainable Crown funding model can be developed.” says Ginny.
Nelson Tasman Hospice CEO Tony Gray agrees the uplift in funding is timely and welcomed.
“The increased funding recognises the 24/7 nature of our specialist palliative care services to the Nelson Tasman community, and it means we can redirect some of our precious dollar resources, previously allocated to meeting penal rate costs, to maintain other equally important parts of the hospices service.” says Tony.
The last significant funding boost for the hospice sector was in 2015. Since then, the cost of delivering care and support services has grown by over $40 million a year.
Mr Naylor says that while $11.5 million a year goes a long way to addressing nursing workforce issues and resolving the pay parity gap, the longer-term funding pressures are not going away.
“The sector still has a $186 million price tag to deliver free specialist palliative care to Kiwis at their end of life. Hospices are an essential service and yet many people may not realise hospices are NOT fully funded by government. Last year hospices had to raise $94 million from community fundraising to cover over half of our running costs.”
“Hospices still need more sustainable investment so we can continue to deliver the very best palliative care services and support for everyone in New Zealand when they need it most.”
“We are working collectively as a unified sector and alongside Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora to agree on a fairer, more sustainable model to fund hospice care.”
“We need to keep having hard conversations about future funding, particularly as the need for our services will increase as our population grows older and people live longer.”
It is predicted that the number of people needing palliative care will increase by 50% by 2040.