Health system unprepared for a Delta outbreak

The Government must explain why the health system was so unprepared for a Delta outbreak and why no new ICU bed spaces were provisioned over the five months since Delta first appeared in our MIQ facilities, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“What’s worse is that the Government still doesn’t have a plan to fix this glaring issue.

“The lack of urgency in preparing for a Delta outbreak has seen urgent negative pressure rooms being built in the middle of a pandemic at Auckland’s three hospitals.

“It’s not as if the Government didn’t know what was needed, the Roche report in June showed capacity needed to be built up.

“The Government has made no changes to New Zealand’s ICU infrastructure since Delta first arrived in New Zealand in April. Labour has clearly failed to listen to experts and the international experience in dealing with a Delta outbreak.

“Rather than invest in recruiting ICU staff, the Government has instead tripled the number of Wellington bureaucrats involved in the health system restructure. It’s also increased funding for the restructuring transition unit from $5 million to $38 million which could have been used on ICU infrastructure.

“More bureaucrats won’t help a very sick New Zealander who desperately needs an ICU bed and staff to look after them, nor will funding a restructuring transition unit.

“The Government has been distracted by its health restructure and failed to prepare New Zealand’s health system for a Delta outbreak.

“Despite the country now in the midst of such an outbreak, it still doesn’t have a plan to build up our ICU capacity, putting New Zealand lives at risk.”