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Strikes and Hodgson lead to longer waits

Tony Ryall MP National Party Health Spokesman

12 June 2006

Strikes and Hodgson lead to longer waits

Labour can't blame anyone but itself for the wave of industrial strife sweeping the health system, says National Party Health spokesman TonyRyall.

"Thousands of patients will wait even longer for treatment as strike action threatens to cripple hospitals this week. The Government knew it was coming and has done nothing to stop it. "When former Health Minister Annette King gave nurses a 20 - 30% pay hike she admitted other health workers would call for similar wage rises. She knew it would cost the Government even more money.

"But the Government has given DHBs slightly less than 3% to meet pay claims this year." This week radiotherapists are striking until late Wednesday, disrupting treatment for cancer sufferers. Junior doctors are in last-ditch negotiation to prevent strike action at the end of the week. General practice is also in revolt as the Government tries to control their businesses. Pharmacy negotiations are also in trouble.

"The industrial sickness in the health system is spreading. The workforce is under considerable pressure and all the Government offers is industrial conflict. New Zealand already has a crisis in elective surgery, and a junior doctors strike will make it even worse.

"The radiotherapy strike will mean hundreds of patients will be denied treatment. At least 50 patients in Auckland have been told that their radiation therapy start dates have been cancelled indefinitely. Imagine if that was your wife, your mother or your child?

"Hospitals are right now in the process of notifying patients who have survived recent waiting list culls that their long awaited operations are to be further delayed. This is truly a crisis of Labour's own making. "Under Pete Hodgson the health system is falling to third world status - even the surgeons are saying that now," Mr Ryall says.

ENDS

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