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Doctors' choice - be gagged or leave

Doctors' choice - be gagged or leave

Government pressure against doctors speaking out about poor services is the reason behind doctors walking out of their jobs in frustration, while others are gagged for highlighting problems, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"I know of doctors who have faced the wrath of the Minister of Health because they've been honest about the lack of services.

"They get a personal phone call from the Minister or the Ministry of Health if they go public over the health crisis that's preventing their patients from getting treatment and surgery. The Minister's intimidation is designed at keeping a lid on the health services crisis but it is seeping out.

"Doctors like Bruce Twaddle and others who have spoken out at Auckland Hospital only go public as a last resort out of concern for patients. They are the experts who look after the public and where they have concerns for safety or patient care they should be able to advocate for patients.

"Their only choice is to speak out or to leave, and that is why plastic surgeon Cary Mellow is leaving Middlemore Hospital. The resignation of this doctor is a huge loss to New Zealand.

"Censuring doctors who speak out on behalf of patients is treating the symptom not the cause. These doctors should be listened too rather than censured," Dr Scott said.

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