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NZNO backs Health and Disability report

26 February 2008

NZNO backs Health and Disability Commissioner’s report

NZNO is heartened by the consistent and firm approach taken by Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson in documenting the faulty ways some district health board (DHBs) have managed their staffing resources.

Responding to the HDC’s report on events at Wanganui Hospital involving gynaecologist Roman Hasil, NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals said it was important these issues were brought to light so better systems could be put in place to improve patient safety.

“It is time to back Ron Paterson in raising awareness of the unique problems some DHBs face with staffing, while working within the limited budgets they are allocated. We can no longer afford to make do with stretching precious health resources to the peril of our communities and the staff who work in them, who are sometime forced to adopt survival tactics.” Annals said.

There is a national funding system based on population numbers within each DHB applied consistently across the country. Even with similar funding available, it can be very difficult to recruit and retain staff in smaller towns. Having clinical and social support for staff is central to achieving positive health outcomes, he said.

As was evident in the Wanganui report, two doctors had to provide 24/7 cover between them. Having too few staff to provide cover can deter some health professionals from working in smaller DHBs.

Annals said more discussions needed to be held, focusing on sharing scarce health resources between centres and DHBs, combined with the backup of the more sophisticated technologies now available.

He called on the Ministry of Health to take greater leadership in working through the problems that beset many DHBs, particularly around recruiting and retaining staff, while providing adequate cover.

“NZNO believes the recommendations in the HDC’s report need to be openly discussed by the Wanganui community so the best health system for that DHB can be put in place. Such a health system will depend on collaboration. We encourage the wider New Zealand public to note the implications of the report for their own communities, so that mutual understandings can be reached about what is possible within the health system, at local, regional and national levels,” Annals said.


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