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X-rays to Beirut: Another Labour failure

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

1 September 2006

X-rays to Beirut: Another Labour failure in health workforce

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says a DHB sending X-rays to Beirut is further evidence that Labour has completely failed to plan for New Zealand's health workforce.

He is commenting on reports that patient X-rays from Hawke's Bay Hospital are being 'read' on the Internet by radiologists based in Lebanon, Pakistan, India and Australia because of chronic staff shortages at the hospital.

"It is astounding that New Zealand's critical shortage of radiologists is so bad that apparently war-torn Lebanon is better equipped to help than other DHBs," says Mr Ryall.

"Despite knowing about shortages throughout the health sector, Labour continues to strategise itself further into crisis. This Government is in complete denial.

"There are shortages in many specialties as well as general practice. Yet Pete Hodgson keeps saying there are no shortages.

"Labour has commissioned at least 35 reports on the health workforce crisis in the past seven years. But still there's no action. This is why senior doctors are now openly criticising the Government's incompetence.

"The fact that a DHB has resorted to sending X-rays to Beirut is a symptom of a much wider malaise. In seven years Labour has spent an extra $4 billion on health, yet there are fewer operations and more problems.

"National says New Zealand needs to focus on recruitment and retention: lift medical training numbers with stronger rural components, trust and work with our medical professionals, and cut taxes to make New Zealand a more attractive place to stay."


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