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

 
Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Prue Hyman On ‘Hopes Dashed?’

For Scoop Review of Books, Alison McCulloch interviewed Prue Hyman about her new book, part of the BWB Texts series, Hopes Dashed? The Economics of Gender Inequality More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Chuck Berry (And James Comey, And Bill English)

Back when many people were still treating rock’n’roll as a passing fad – was calypso going to be the new thing? – Chuck Berry knew that it had changed popular music forever. What is even more astonishing is that this 30-ish black r&b musician from a middle class family in St Louis could manage to recreate the world of white teenagers, at a time when the very notion of a “teenager” had just been invented. More>>

Howard Davis Review:
The Baroque Fusion Of L'arpeggiata

Named after a toccata by German composer Girolamo Kapsberger, L'Arpeggiata produces its unmistakable sonority mainly from the resonance of plucked strings, creating a tightly-woven acoustic texture that is both idiosyncratic and immediately identifiable. Director Christina Pluhar engenders this distinctive tonality associated with the ensemble she founded in 2000 by inviting musicians and vocalists from around the world to collaborate on specific projects illuminated by her musicological research. More>>

African Masks And Sculpture: Attic Discovery On Display At Expressions Whirinaki

Ranging from masks studded with nails and shards of glass to statues laden with magical metal, the works are from ethnic groups in nine countries ranging from Ivory Coast to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More>>

Obituary: Andrew Little Remembers Murray Ball

“Murray mined a rich vein of New Zealand popular culture and exported it to the world. Wal and Dog and all the other Kiwi characters he crafted through Footrot Flats were hugely popular here and in Australia, Europe and North America." More>>

ALSO:

Organised Choas: NZ Fringe Festival 2017 Awards

Three more weeks of organised chaos have come to an end with the Wellington NZ Fringe Arts Festival Awards Ceremony as a chance to celebrate all our Fringe artists for their talent, ingenuity, and chutzpah! More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Wellington Writer Wins $US165,000 Literature Prize

Victoria University of Wellington staff member and alumna Ashleigh Young has won a prestigious Windham-Campbell Literature Prize worth USD$165,000 for her book of essays Can You Tolerate This? More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: We’re All Lab Rats

A couple of years ago, there were reports that Silicon Valley executives were sending their children to tech-free schools. It was a story that dripped of irony: geeks in the heart of techno-utopia rejecting their ideology when it came to their own kids. But the story didn’t catch on, and an awkward question lingered. Why were the engineers of the future desperate to part their gadgets from their children? More>>

  • CensusAtSchool - Most kids have no screen-time limits
  • Netsafe - Half of NZ high school students unsupervised online
  • Get More From Scoop

     
     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
    Health
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news