I have been alarmed in recent weeks at the number of people who I have casually mentioned the election to, and who have decided not to vote as they feel their vote will not make a difference or that whichever government is in power will not make a great deal of difference to them.
This is where you are wrong.
Most of the people who I work with are heavy users of the state funded healthcare system whether we realise it or not – cleft treatment is surprisingly expensive and we are very fortunate in New Zealand that this is a state funded enterprise and we are incredibly privileged that the leaders in the field of cleft care are available to us freely through the state system. For at least the last 10 years, we have had a cleft care system that is available to all those in New Zealand regardless of location, with no cap on age, cost of procedures or number of procedures. That in itself puts us so far above many other systems, including that of the United States.
Nothing is static though – over the past 10 years we have seen great progress in the level of care and expertise on offer through the state system, and in my professional opinion, the quality of cleft care available through the state system at the current time is the best on offer in New Zealand as this is where the expertise and experience lies. But because nothing is static and this is a costly exercise which is currently met by the taxpayer, we have to appreciate that not everyone feels as grateful for the system as we do or should. Depending on the composition and representation of a government, we could potentially see an increase in privatisation of health care and a reduction or cap on state funded services. How does that sit with you?
This is where it is so important to vote for what you believe in, and to understand that presently you are a heavy user of a government service, so you should take the time to read the various parties’ policies with regard to that service.
I have nothing to gain by telling you to vote for a particular party, but I urge you to be passionate about this by reading the policies and vote for the party and policies that you truly believe in this Saturday.
If you need some inspiration to get started, consider these questions:
What role (if any) should the private health care system play in New Zealand’s cleft care?
Should a cap be placed on the cleft care available by the state health system?
Is there any aspect of cleft care that should be paid for by the patient?
Should the internationally accepted best practice cleft unit be available without cost to everyone through the state system?
Should the country’s leading health professionals be freely available to the public through the state health system?