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Cunliffe flounders on patient risk

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
27 February 2008

Cunliffe flounders on patient risk

Health Minister David Cunliffe continues to flounder around and is ignoring the risks to patients of the growing chaos in our hospitals, says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

“Top health officials have been forced to contradict his guarantee that the Whanganui DHB incident is an isolated case.”
The Health and Disability Commissioner says severe workforce shortages led the Whanganui DHB to cut corners in employing Dr Hasil. Mr Paterson says other DHBs face similar pressures and similar problems could happen elsewhere. He’s recently described our hospitals as unsafe.

But Mr Cunliffe is in denial. Labour's third health minister in three years said yesterday: ‘What we have here is a very unusual circumstance. I'm not aware of anything like it around the country. So I would want to reassure New Zealanders in other regional areas that this is not something that we think is happening anywhere else in the country,’ (RNZ 26/2/08)

But Mr Ryall says the Minister's comments completely fly in the face of the Health and Disability Commissioner, and the chairman of the Medical Council.

“The body responsible for registering New Zealand's doctors cannot rule out that there may be more suspect doctors working in the country's hospitals, I’d believe them before Mr Cunliffe.”

Professor John Campbell told media: ‘There are a lot of doctors coming in from other countries to practise in New Zealand ... and the risks of something like this happening again are still there.’ (RNZ 26/2/08)

And Dr Pim Allen, Southland DHB chief medical officer said: ‘We do everything we can to take this really seriously and to do it responsibly. I can't of course give you an absolute guarantee because sometimes in the end sometimes people do leave things out of their CV.‘ (TVNZ 26/2/08).

“Mr Cunliffe needs to realise and recognise the gravity of the workforce shortage in New Zealand instead of ignoring it, and foolishly dismissing the risks to patients.”


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