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Health Facilities Idle

Media Release -- Health

“Public health facilities are lying idle because of staffing and financial constraints and New Zealanders with life threatening conditions are being turned away,” he said.

At present New Zealand hospitals have over 150 staff vacancies. According to Statistics New Zealand, 4,700 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, have left the country since 1996. 350 doctors left New Zealand hospitals last year alone.

“The public health sector is now facing a 20 per cent wage demand sought by the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association and a significant increases from the Nurses’ Association,” Mr Shirley said.

“Salaries account for $2 billion in the health budget and even if the Government can hold pay increases across the board to 5 per cent this would cost some $100 million.

“In Opposition Annette King constantly raised expectations for significant pay increases for health professionals under a Labour Government. With limited increased money available in Vote Health, she is now faced with a tough choice between maintaining health services at an acceptable level or conceding to the pay demands.”

Mr Shirley said if the Minister failed to deliver on the wage rounds, then she was looking at the possibility of strike action which could cripple hospitals already hard hit by doctor and nurse shortages.

“It is clear that the situation will be compounded by the Employment Relations Act and we could see rolling strikes in our public hospitals,” he said.

“The Minister has also failed to make adequate provision within the Health budget for the massive health reforms which are un-costed and way behind schedule. These restructurings will also further erode staff morale.

“Every week we are hearing tragic personal stories of New Zealanders who are facing life -threatening conditions, being denied treatment in our public hospitals.

“Those who can afford to are paying for private treatment, with some even travelling to Australia. For many less privileged New Zealanders this is not an option and instead they wait and wait, too often with fatal consequences.

“I have written to the Minister urging that public funding be made available for New Zealanders with urgent health needs to receive the care they need in private hospitals where there is installed capacity.

“It is shameful that ideology and dogma are preventing people with life threatening conditions from receiving the treatment they desperately require,” Ken Shirley said.


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