Surf life-saver going deaf to deliver 26,000-strong petition

Press Release – YesWeCareNZ

A 22-year-old surf life-saver going deaf will deliver a 26,643-strong petition to Parliament at noon today, on the Parliament forecourt.
15 August 2017 7.30am

Surf life-saver going deaf to deliver 26,000-strong petition

A 22-year-old surf life-saver going deaf will deliver a 26,643-strong petition to Parliament at noon today, on the Parliament forecourt.

The petition calls on Bill English to give Danielle Mackey a publically-funded cochlear implant before she goes completely deaf.

Mackey will deliver the petition to deaf Green MP Mojo Mathers.

The Southern Cochlear Implant Trust (SCIT), which manages cochlear implants below Taupo, put Mackay on a waiting list in December 2015.

But Mrs Mackay says the trust took her off the list in June, despite her going completely deaf in one ear and quickly losing hearing in her other ear.

“It’s been “scary” losing my hearing,” she says. “When I lost hearing in my right ear, I felt lost, and when I started forgetting how to say words, I felt frustrated and depressed.”

Mrs Mackay says she’d rather be spending time saving lives than feeling angry because a lack of funding is stopping her from hearing.

“I just want to be able to hear Tuis, my boyfriend laughing and to just talk with my family over lunch,” she says. “A cochlear implant will help me cope with everyday living and give me a quality of life everyone deserves.”

Mackay says public support has been “overwhelming” and she “had no idea” how much support she’d get.

“Now it’s time to see if Prime Minister Bill English is listening,” she says. “This is his chance to show his support for my right, and everyone’s right, to hear.”

YesWeCare.nz, a health funding coalition of community groups, patients and people working in health, has been supporting Mackay.

Coalition spokesperson Sarah Martin says it’s taking longer and longer for people needing cochlear implants to hear.

Martin says the average waiting time jumped to 20 months this year, up from 14 and 17 months, north and south of Taupo, in 2016.

“It’s a lot worse than government figures show because people like Danielle, who can’t even get on a waiting list, aren’t counted,” she says. “The problem is baseline funding for cochlear implants hasn’t changed for three years meaning there is less help per person every year.”

Mrs Martin says this is a symptom of what the group says is $2.3 billion in health underfunding.

“Funding hasn’t kept up with our ageing and growing population which is why we are seeing more and more Kiwis are falling through the cracks,” she says.

YesWeCare.nz wants the Government to clear the cochlear implant surgery backlog and give everyone an implant who needs and wants one.

It also wants $2.3 billion in funding restored, funding to match annual need, and a national survey into unmet health need.
ENDS

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