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Health minister makes unfair attacks

“Health minister makes unfair attacks on hawkes bay senior doctors; government primary care strategy may be responsible”

“Health Minister Pete Hodgson was unfair in what amounted to an accusation that Hawkes Bay senior doctors (and managers) were being unethical in their handling of patients referred by general practitioners for their first specialist assessment,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

“Whatever the Minister’s intention, senior doctors could only reasonably assume that they, and management, were the target of his unwise and untrue accusation. The Minister will have to work hard to regain their confidence for this unfortunate turn of events.”

“Ironically, the success of the government’s primary care strategy might, at least in part, be responsible for the high level of GP referrals for specialist assessments. This strategy is largely about improving access by patients to GPs. To the extent that this is successful then more illness is being detected by GPs leading to more referrals for specialist assessment. The problem, however, is that our public hospitals are not adequately resourced to meet this increased demand.”

“It is excellent that more New Zealanders might now be accessing primary care and the government should be proud of this. But it has also assumed that this would lead to reduced pressures on our public hospitals. But an unintended consequence may have been to increase these pressures.”

“Rather than making baseless and offensive accusations of unethical behaviour, we would much rather prefer that the Minister worked with senior doctors and other health professionals in order to work out how to improve access to health care for all who need it,” concluded Mr Powell.


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