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Health crisis hits Opotiki

Dr Lynda Scott MP National Party Health Spokeswoman

21 August 2003

Health crisis hits Opotiki

The Government must act with urgency to address the serious safety concerns of more than 9,500 people in the Opotiki community.

"The situation has deteriorated to the point that there is no longer any after-hours GP cover and nurses are being forced to run the local hospital," says National Party Health spokeswoman Lynda Scott.

The newly formed Opotiki Health Services Action Group is holding a public meeting at the Opotiki District Council tonight where residents hope to share their concerns.

"It's become an issue of public safety, with people having to travel between one and three hundred kilometres for treatment - I understand there have already been some very close calls," says Dr Scott.

"The District Health Board and PHOs are failing in their duty of care.

"Nurses have been voicing private concerns that they're being expected to work outside their capacity and they're being put in compromising situations.

"When hardworking nurses start raising the alarm, something's going very wrong.

"They're worried they'll be in the firing line because they're being forced into making life and death decisions that they're not qualified to make," says Dr Scott.

"And when the volunteer ambulance is busy, there is no help.

"When the Government opened a new hospital in the community during 1999, residents were promised 24 hour doctor care would continue.

"That service now stops at 5pm every night," Dr Scott says.

"Health officials must start listening to this community's concerns, the District Health Board has a duty to make sure Opotiki patients aren't exposed to continuing risk.

"From the nightmare stories now surfacing in the area, it's clear their fears deserve urgent attention," Dr Scott says.


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