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DHB Blow-Out Doctors And Nurses Meat In Sandwich

“Doctors And Nurses ‘Meat In Sandwich’ Over Dhb’s Financial Blow-Out”

“Doctors and nurses are the ‘meat in the sandwich’ over the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board’s financial blow-out,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. The DHB is now forecasting an increased deficit of its hospital-based services of $2.5 million.

“The DHB is blaming the increased deficit on a blow-out in the costs of employing doctors and nurses. But these costs have been known for some time and should have been budgeted for. Senior doctors’ conditions have not changed since their collective agreement expired on 31 May 2003 (negotiations are still continuing for a replacement national agreement).”

“An important factor in the deficit is the DHB’s forced reliance on temporary (locum) appointments which is much more expensive than employing permanent medical and nursing staff. This dependence on costly and less effective temporary staff is because the DHB is unable to recruit and retain enough permanent staff.”

“The DHB’s deficit is due to either under-funding by the government or poor management by the DHB (or a combination of both). Whatever the specific causes, it is unfair to compromise patient care, point the finger at doctors and nurses, or expect doctors and nurses to cope with the increased stress and strains. While politicians and bureaucrats invariably deny that patient care is being compromised, it is left to doctors and nurses to tell the truth to patients.”

“There is no quick fix to the DHB’s financial problems if patient care is not to be compromised. Longer term and sustainable solutions require the DHB adopting a new approach of actively involving doctors and nurses in the engine-room of decision rather than being left to cope with and comment on the mess after the event.”

“We look forward to the day when pigs will fly with governments and bureaucrats taking the same level of risk, responsibility and stress of doctors and nurses of trying to provide safe, quality and accessible patient care,” concluded Mr Powell.

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