News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Staff shortages, financial constraints bite public hospitals

26 March 2014

Staff shortages and financial constraints biting public hospitals

“Staff shortages and financial constraints are clearly starting to bite at some public hospitals,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), today.

“Last week we heard about drastic cost-cutting plans and possible job losses at Auckland DHB as it grapples with both a deficit and increasing pressure on its services,” he says.

“We’ve also heard in the past few days about Southern DHB’s battle to deal with a $13 million deficit – and now we get the news that four district health boards have been identified as at risk of staffing shortages. This is the last thing patients and the already stretched clinical workforce needs to hear.”

The Waikato Times has reported that four DHBs – Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley and Nelson Marlborough – were found to be at high risk of staffing shortages in specific staffing areas during routine certification audits last year. Health Minister Tony Ryall told Labour health spokesperson Annette King in a written answer that the Ministry of Health had since downgraded their risk level to moderate.

“But what does moderate mean when it comes to being short of front line clinical health staff?” asked Mr Powell. “These shortages might seem moderate to the Health Ministry but I bet they’re not regarded that way by either the public or the doctors and nurses who have to deal with the day to day reality of too few people on the hospital wards.”

Mr Powell says DHBs around the country have signalled to the ASMS that they are increasingly strapped for cash and something will have to give. Waikato DHB, for example, has indicated it is looking for $40 million in savings in 2014-15 and will need to change the way it does some things.

“The risk is that some DHBs, like Auckland, will reach for panic solutions which offer immediate financial relief, even though these solutions may have longer-term consequences for the provision of health services, quality of care, and the clinical workforce. This would be extremely unwise but in reality it reflects the broader issues of political under-investment in health care and the clinical workforce, which the Government needs to take responsibility for.”

Mr Powell says entrenched shortages of hospital specialists have been the norm in New Zealand for years. The solution is greater investment in the workforce, more realistic funding for DHBs to meet the actual costs of running a national health system, and to stop placing unrealistic expectations on DHBs which then put unwarranted pressure on services.

“We know DHBs are making valiant efforts to stay in the black but the message we’re getting loud and clear is that they’re fast running out of money, and that this is making things tougher for the professional, skilled clinical workforce that holds New Zealand’s health system together.”

Mr Powell says an additional concern is the progress of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, which has just had its second reading and is on track to pass into law. If it does, he says it has the potential to cause significant stress in the health sector by removing a number of important protections for the clinical workforce.

“Under the current Employment Relations Act, senior doctors are assured of nationally consistent entitlements across the DHBs in terms of salaries, professional development, annual leave and the right to take part in public discussion of health. Those things are at risk if this punitive new piece of legislation becomes law,” concluded Mr Powell.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Review: The Magic Flute - Magic Moments

Max Rashbrooke: Mozart’s The Magic Flute is an extraordinary tale, blending a story of great solemnity, of elegant music and Masonic virtue overcoming hatred and discord, with elements of extreme silliness and pure fantasy. .. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: ‘Lovely Swans Of Art’

On Cillia McQueen's 'In a Slant Light': Diary-keeping forms the basis of much of this memoir – as with earlier poems – and we are led gracefully through the waves of her life as she sails through both rough and smooth waters. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: From Here And There

Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story
by Helene Wong.
This is the fascinating story of Helene Wong, born in 1949 in Taihape to Chinese parents: her mother, born soon after her parents migrated here, and her father, born in China but sent to relatives in Taihape at seven to get an education in English. More>>

Chiku: Hamilton Zoo's Baby Chimpanzee Named

Hamilton Zoo has named its three-month-old baby chimpanzee after a month-long public naming competition through the popular zoo’s website. The name chosen is Chiku, a Swahili name for girls meaning "talker" or "one who chatters". More>>

Game Over: Trans-Tasman Netball League To Discontinue

Netball Australia and Netball New Zealand have confirmed that the existing ANZ Championship format will discontinue after the current 2016 season, with both organisations to form national netball leagues in their respective countries. More>>

NZSO Review: Stephen Hough Is Perfection-Plus

He took risks, and leant into the music when required. But you also felt that every moment of his playing made sense in the wider picture of the piece. Playing alongside him, the NZSO were wonderful as ever, and their guest conductor, Gustavo Gimeno, coaxed from them a slightly darker, edgier sound than I’m used to hearing. More>>

ALSO:

Howard Davis Review: King Lear At Circa

In order to celebrate it's 40th birthday, it is perhaps fitting that Circa Theatre should pick a production of 'King Lear,' since it's also somewhat fortuitously Shakespeare's 400th anniversary. If some of the more cerebral poetry is lost in Michael Hurst's streamlined, full throttle production, it's more than made up for by plenty of lascivious violence designed to entertain the groundlings. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news