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Medical Workforce Issues Ignored

Media Release

3 October 2006

Medical Workforce Issues Ignored

Government approval of $200 million to carry out 10,000 extra operations is more a short term move to reduce the embarrassing number of noisily suffering people on waiting lists than a long-term solution, says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“It does nothing to tackle our increasing workforce problems. So far this year thousands of patients have been affected by industrial action by junior doctors and radiographers and now senior doctors’ pay talks have also stalled.

“In answer to a recent question the Minister of Health said that in the event of strike action he could not intervene – dhbs are responsible for hiring their own staff.

“Reducing waiting lists by sending people back to their GPs is apparently a different story - if enough pressure is applied the Government will intervene in that area.

“However that is an easy option and the Government obviously has no desire to get involved in the more contentious field of employment relations. The consequences of unelected bureaucrats conducting sensitive wage negotiations are now becoming apparent. Our senior doctors are being offered around 7% pay increases over the next three years, compared with around 28% over 4 years in Australia. Workforce retention issues? What workforce retention issues?

“Throwing money at problems does not make them disappear. Neither does offloading responsibility to bureaucrats. Workforce issues need to be resolved as soon as possible – there is no point in funding thousands of extra operations if the people needed to perform them have migrated in search of better working conditions,” said Mrs Stewart.


-----Original Message-----
From: qwawf
Sent: Wednesday, 27 September 2006 03:40 p.m.
To: Barbara Stewart
Subject: 13047 (2006) Published - Health - Normal Reply

Question: Has he seen any reports including statements by the secretary of the Association of Professional and Executive Employees that the current claim for pay parity with radiographers working in other health districts "would cost less to settle than what health boards were spending on the strike" and if so, does he think this situation is satisfactory, and will he intervene if more strikes occur?

Portfolio: Health

Minister: Hon Pete Hodgson

Date Lodged:19/09/2006

Answer Text: I am aware that the secretary of the Association of Professional and Executive Employees has claimed in the media that the cost of the strike outweighed the cost of meeting the union's pay demands.

Under legislation, the Chief Executive of each DHB is accountable for determining the terms and conditions of employment for the DHB's staff. While I am concerned about the impact on patients of any strike action, it would be inappropriate for me to intervene in the employment relationship between the DHBs, their employees and their employees' representative.

Attachment: None

Date Received:27/09/2006


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