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Ryall warns of repeat Whanganui DHB scandal

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
26 February 2008

Ryall warns of repeat Whanganui DHB scandal

"There is every risk that what happened to Whanganui women could be repeated at other regional hospitals," warns National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

"Last week's official report on sentinel events is further evidence of this widespread risk.

"The Labour Government's total failure to maintain a sufficient health workforce in this country is laid bare in this latest report. The Whanganui medical scandal is not just about a ‘rogue doctor’. It is about how the crisis in the public health system let him operate.”

Mr Ryall is commenting on the Health and Disabilty Commissioner's report about Dr Roman Hasil and the Whanganui DHB.

"While the Whanganui inquiry revolves around the performance of Dr Hasil, it is in fact a symptom of a wider shortage of doctors in hospital services throughout New Zealand.

"Wanganui is not the only regional hospital struggling to maintain doctors. The commissioner says these workforce shortages are ‘endemic’.

The report says the failure to detect Hasil’s blunders arose because his supervisors were grossly overloaded. The commissioner warns of the temptation to cut corners to employ and maintain medical staff without adequate supervision

What will also worry New Zealanders who read this report is that the revelations of Hasil's botched practice at Wanganui did not result from a professional monitoring system, but from the complaint of an individual patient.

“New Zealanders will be asking why there was no adequate system to deal with staff concerns. In fact, it seems a solitary brave nurse was the only person to regularly raise alarms. These were rejected by the DHB system.

“Yet again Labour has failed to deal with this issue after eight years in office. No one believes they can deal with it now.”

In a speech in August last year, Mr Ryall talked about National's ideas to deal with the quality healthcare issues like those raised in this report and last week's sentinel events report.

“National makes it clear the future lies with stronger clinical governance ... doctors and nurses taking greater responsibility for the performance of each other - and the system - to improve patient care. We cannot afford a culture of silence or neglect within the health professions. The New South Wales concept of regional clinical networks offers a path to safer health services across our provincial communities.

“New Zealanders will be asking how the health budget can increase by $5 billion a year, yet our hospitals are declared by the independent Health Commissioner to be ‘unsafe’ with endemic staff shortages.”


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