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Scott Cries Crocodile Tears

11 July 2000 Media Statement

Scott Cries Crocodile Tears

Health Minister Annette King says National Party associate health spokesperson Lynda Scott is crying crocodile tears over the shortage of nurses.

"It is absolutely remarkable that she can issue a media release today talking about how she has heard reports today about a national nursing shortage, when the previous Government was told about this shortage three years ago, and did nothing about it.

"The attitude of the previoius administration was to let market forces cope with the issue of staffing numbers. That was a ridiculous notion, because the health workforce is far too important to be left to the whim of the market.

"Now, seven months after losing office, suddenly National believes we can create new health professionals out of thin air. You cannot train nurses in seven months, no matter how well-intentioned you are."

Mrs King said she has approached the Ministry of Health to seek reassurances there are no immediate safety issues arising from nursing shortages in certain areas.

"But this isn't an issue to be dealt with short-term. The health workforce has to be planned properly. That is why the Health Workforce Advisory Committee will be up and running later this year. It is probably still three months away, but we have to make sure we get the right people on it to do the job properly in the long term."

Mrs King said all hospitals had been allocated extra money in this year's Budget, and it was up to hospitals to negotiate salaries and conditions with staff, not for the Government to determine wage levels.

"As far as nurses are concerned, pay is not the only issue. They know there are some overseas countries we cannot compete with, and young people want to travel overseas anyway, but there are certainly other issues, like conditions of work, and students loans, that hospitals can look at."

ENDS

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