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


“Off-line” ambulances sign of staffing crisis

29 August 2019

The dangerous practice of keeping patients waiting in ambulances for up to two hours is another sign of a system in crisis due to workforce shortages, says Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) Executive Director Ian Powell.

Mr Powell was commenting on this (paywalled) story in the New Zealand Herald:

It reports the comments of Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president and Waikato Hospital emergency specialist Dr John Bonning, who says it is common now for public hospitals to ask an ambulance to go “off-line” for up to two hours as the emergency department cannot take the patient yet.

“Patients’ lives are being put at risk in large part because of a severe shortage of specialists and other staff in our emergency departments,” Mr Powell says.

ASMS surveys of Heads of Department at our country’s hospitals are revealing significant shortfalls in specialist staffing. In the latest, at Waikato DHB, clinical leaders estimated they needed 48.6 full-time equivalent additional specialists – 27.6% of current specialist staffing at the DHB.

“It is little wonder the national burnout rate for hospital specialists is 50%,” Mr Powell says.

“Health Minister David Clark and National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse are bickering about whose government is to blame for the mess our EDs are in. The truth is both politicians’ respective parties have been like floundering fish when it comes to running the public health system.”

ASMS has been producing a series of videos of members throughout New Zealand talking about life on the front-line. Today, we are releasing that of Hutt Valley emergency physician Dr Tanya Wilton, who talks about the challenge of providing quality patient care in her ED.

Dr Wilton’s video can be viewed here:


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Facebook Announces New Changes: Combating Hate And Extremism

Some of these changes predate the tragic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, but that attack, and the global response to it in the form of the Christchurch Call to Action, has strongly influenced the recent updates to our policies and their enforcement. More>>

Amazon Confirms: Lord Of The Rings Series To Shoot In NZ

Amazon Studios announced today that its series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic fantasy novels The Lord of the Rings will shoot in New Zealand. Pre-production has started, and production on the series will begin in Auckland in the coming months. More>>


Birds: Dunedin's Bells Ring As City Celebrates Its Albatross

The city's churches, schools and public buildings bells would chime in unison from 1pm, in what has been a long-standing tradition marking the return of the birds - and a farewell to this season's albatross chicks. More>>

Oscar Buzz: Waititi's Jojo Rabbit Wins People's Choice Award At Toronto

Taika Waititi's new film Jojo Rabbit has nabbed the coveted Grolsch People's Choice Award at the close of Toronto International Film Festival. More>>


Broken Estate: An Expat Expert Surveys Our Media

Melanie Bunce cut her teeth in journalism at the Otago Daily Times. Now she teaches and researches it at one of the UK’s most prestigious journalism schools and tracks the trends that shape the uncertain future of news... More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland