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Patients face bleak winter in Labour's hospitals

Hon Tony Ryall MP National Party Health spokesman

2 March 2008

Patients face bleak winter in Labour's hospitals

Reporters note: Individual DHB vacancy figures attached

The Labour Government's failure to deal with growing health workforce shortages is directly to blame for what is looming as a crisis of desperate proportions in public hospitals this winter, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

He is releasing figures which show that in February there were 250 junior doctor vacancies throughout the country, including 55 in Auckland, 35 at MidCentral, 28 at Counties Manukau, 20 at Hutt Valley, and 19 at Canterbury.

"And these shortages are only going to get worse, especially when you consider the number of vacancies at a smaller DHB like MidCentral. Their 35 vacancies equate to an astonishing vacancy rate of 28% of their junior doctor workforce, according to the DHB.

"Shortages of that magnitude are putting incredible pressure on front-line staff and patients. Staff shortages are affecting the way wards are run and the way patients are treated.

"Despite Labour pumping in more than $5 billion extra a year, the workforce crisis gets worse.

"Labour has been well aware of these shortages for years. But all they have done is call for 43 reports and endless committees.

"They have been happy to hire more and more bureaucrats but have done little where it counts.

"It is very telling for Labour when a union is expressing grave concerns about what these figures could mean for our hospitals in the winter."

National's Health Discussion paper proposes moving to medical training self-sufficiency, investigating bonding and student-loan write-offs for health professionals working in hard-to-staff areas, and a real focus on retention of current staff.

  • RMO vancies
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