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Planning failure leads to hospitals' crisis

Tony Ryall MP National
Party Health Spokesman
& Dr Jonathan Coleman MP
National Party Associate Health Spokesman

6 March 2008

Planning failure leads to hospitals' crisis

The Auckland hospitals crisis is the result of Labour's failure to plan for the future.

National's Health spokesman Tony Ryall says "the unprecedented and dangerous overload of Auckland hospitals is another failure in Labour's health system. It is incredible that in a First World country, contingency plans include holding patients in parked ambulances, as happened in North Shore last year."

Mr Ryall and Dr Coleman are commenting after revelations that Auckland hospitals are failing to cope with patient demand. In a media statement on Sunday, Mr Ryall warned of a crisis of desperate proportions in public hospitals this winter because of staff shortages.

Mr Ryall says: "It's only February and already hospitals across Auckland are in gridlock. New Zealanders will be asking how the Government can be spending an extra $5 billion a year on health and the hospitals are already full and it's not yet winter

"This risky situation didn't just happen overnight. A complete lack of foresight by Labour has led to this crisis.

"There aren't enough beds, but the real problem is there aren't enough staff, either. International research suggests that hospitals operating at over 85% occupancy risk more patient infections and error. The situation creates even more pressure on our frontline health professionals, who are working valiantly to help patients through this crisis."

Dr Coleman says "Labour can talk about building more hospitals, but that's not going to help the dire situation people are facing across Auckland this winter. North Shore Hospital even has sections of corridors labelled as bed spaces.

"The fact is there has been a complete failure of planning under Labour - all there is to show for nine years is 43 reports and morale of hospital staff across the country at an all-time low.

"It's incredible that after nine years and an extra $5 billion a year, we are facing yet another winter crisis. It's a gross lack of foresight and leadership.

"National's health discussion paper Better, Sooner, More Convenient proposes a long-term health services plan to deal with the country's changing demographic. It particularly identifies the challenge of population flow north.

"By 2026, the population of Greater Auckland is expected to grow by 46% and Labour hasn't even started thinking about that."

ENDS

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