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DHBs Must End ‘Head In The Sand’ Attitude

“DHBs Must End ‘Head In The Sand’ Attitude To Public Hospital Staffing Shortages”

“District health boards must end their ‘head in the sand’ attitude to public hospital doctor and nurse shortages,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was responding to the reported crisis in emergency departments in which patient waiting times are deteriorating.

“The government maintains that it has increased health spending. But district health boards are failing to use this funding to address the critical issues in public hospitals which depend primarily on having an adequate number of qualified doctors and nurses.”

“Much of this reported crisis, which compromises patient safety, is because of doctor and nursing shortages due to recruitment and retention difficulties. These shortages and difficulties are wider than emergency departments. They also affect other health services.”

“Unfortunately no one is taking overall responsibility for these problems. District health boards have downplayed and ignored recruitment and retention issues in the protracted national senior doctor collective agreement negotiations that have been underway since April 2003 and which are still unresolved.”

“The longer health bosses keep their ‘heads in the sand’, the more morale among doctors and nurses will further decline, and the more this declining morale will worsen public hospital staffing levels and make recruitment even more difficult. The public is being short-changed by this lack of leadership.”

“If this lack of coordinated leadership by district health boards continues our public hospitals will continue to be caught in their ever decreasing circles,” concluded Mr Powell.

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