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Workforce Crisis Wake Up Call

30 May 2006

Workforce Crisis Wake Up Call

Government action to deal with the looming medical workforce crisis is reassuring says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“News that the Health Workforce Advisory Committee is to be transformed into an “action committee” with a new name and some new members is not quite so encouraging. Given the state of the health system every committee should be an action committee, especially those in the Ministry of Health.

“Now that the Government has bitten the bullet and acknowledged the workforce crisis the next step should be to acknowledge that the public health system cannot be all things to all people without further massive funding increases. Such increases are unlikely to be handed over voluntarily by Dr Cullen,” said Mrs Stewart.

“The realisation is growing that paying your taxes will not necessarily mean that you will receive everything you need from the health system.

“New Zealand First advocates the exploration of options to encourage those who can afford to take out private health insurance, including the possible provision of tax rebates.

“We also support the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the public health system to establish precisely what the public expects and what the system can deliver. Our ultimate aim would be to establish a public health compact with the public stipulating the guaranteed minimum services they can expect from the public health sector. It will also consider the overlap with the private sector

“The public health system is not as accessible as it used to be and that is a situation which is unlikely to improve. The looming shortage of doctors should be proof enough of that,” said Mrs Stewart.

ENDS

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