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Doctor shortage symptom of Labour neglect

Doctor shortage symptom of Labour neglect and bureaucracy

With hospitals throughout the country facing critical staff shortages, Rotorua Hospital is the latest to admit services are suffering due to a desperate shortage of junior doctors, says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

“Outpatient clinics have been cancelled, and doctors say forced delays in seeing a specialist could mean more people will get sicker in the community and end up in the emergency department.

“This demonstrates the nonsense of Labour’s claim that staff shortages are not having an impact on patient care. They clearly are.”

Mr Ryall says senior staff are having to fill the gaps after Rotorua Hospital was able only to fill three of its seven registrar vacancies last November.

“This is a recipe for disaster. Fatigued staff don’t always make good decisions no matter how good a doctor they are.”

The registrar shortage in Rotorua follows similar reports from Auckland recently.

“It would appear to be a nationwide problem, but it isn’t new,” Mr Ryall says.

As far back as 2005, registrars at Rotorua Hospital were complaining about overwork, fatigue, and the potential safety risks to patients.**

“In National’s health discussion paper, we canvas the idea of bonding new doctor graduates to regional centres in return for student loan concessions. This could help in situations like these. Retaining existing staff and slowing the flood of health professionals to Australia would also help.”

Mr Ryall says there are well publicised workforce shortages in other areas too, including senior doctors, midwives, and paediatric oncologists in the capital, to name a few.

“Labour has utterly failed to plan properly for the changing population. Labour has managed to recruit an army of more than 10,000 bureaucrats, but they haven’t been able to put enough doctors in hospital wards.

“Now that he's apparently ‘running the show’, Health Minister David Cunliffe should set about fixing the crisis his predecessors watched unfold before them.”


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