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'Urgent Action required before a life is lost'

'Urgent Action required before a life is lost' says Tariana Turia Tariana Turia, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru Friday 4 August 2006

Tariana Turia, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru and Health Spokesperson for the Maori Party has called for urgent action to address the staffing crisis which has created an emergency in paediatric and maternity services at Whanganui Hospital.

"From next week, children requiring acute medical care in Whanganui, or women requiring a paediatrician at the birth, will be forced to travel to Palmerston North Hospital" said Mrs Turia.

The Hospital recently announced they will send children with acute medical conditions, and in the case of maternity, families whose baby may be at risk, to Palmerston North as a result of their staffing crisis.

"Whanganui already has problems due to an under-staffed ambulance service, so we fear for the difficulties that will arise at the point of transfer, the issues that may arise with time lapses and communication of vital information".

"I have been told that the ambulance service will only be able to supply a driver, leaving the need for specialist medical care to accompany the patient. It may take a hour or so to supply an ambulance, and then up to 1.5 hours to get to Palmerston, so time will be a key factor" said Mrs Turia.

"Of particular concern to me, is the advice I have received that the patient in emergency childbirth would not be able to be stabilised".

"There are other factors to consider with our ambulatory service - the fact that they may not be able to cope if more than one ambulance is needed to transfer several patients at the same time, and of course the very recent reminder that the road to Palmerston North is not always open, due to floods".

"This crisis is a reflection of appalling Human Resurces management at the hospital" said Mrs Turia. "The Whanganui community suffers from our DHB (District Health Board) being rated as 20th out of 21 DHBs in terms of our overall level of health".

"I have been informed that the Ministry of Health has been no help at all because it devolves all the responsibility to the DHB but controls decision making" said Mrs Turia. "The irony is, that any questions to the Ministry from the Health Select Committee are always sheeted home to the DHB's - and yet here is a DHB in utter crisis, and it appears no-body will take responsibility".

"The situation must be addressed urgently or else this community is going to suffer, even more than they currently do" stated Mrs Turia. "I understand a hikoi has been organised by the midwives of Whanganui for 9 August" said Mrs Turia. "Our community is reeling from the impact of these decisions made on high. Something must be done, and done now."

"Some of these children suffer from conditions which are at times life-threatening. We have a disproportionate number of Maori child admissions to the hospital, and many families experiencing the trauma of income deprivation" explained Mrs Turia.

"I am horrified that whanau who will already be stressed from their health situation, will be subjected to further anxiety as they deal with the pressure of travel, accommodation and the strain of being away from home" said Mrs Turia.

"I have been contacted today by a constituent who with her child, had turned up to the paediatric clinic at Whanganui Hospital, only to be turned away. It appeared that the one paediatric consultant on duty was unable to leave a seriously ill child whom he has spent time with at the hospital from midnight last night".

"I shudder to think what would have happened to that child if the child had fallen ill next week".


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