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Labour is all talk on ‘frightening’ health crisis

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

23 March 2008

Labour is all talk on ‘frightening’ health crisis

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says Labour has allowed a ‘frightening’ health workforce crisis to develop despite building up an army of bureaucrats, who’ve produced at least 43 reports on the subject since 2000.

“More than eight years later, I doubt the public will take comfort from the comments of Health Minister David Cunliffe, who says work is underway.  If it is still underway after eight years in office, then Labour will never do anything about it.”

Mr Ryall is referring to weekend reports, which say the Council of Medical Colleges, the Medical Association, the Resident Doctors Association, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and the Medical Students Association are warning there is a ‘frightening’ workforce crisis unfolding in the health sector.

“It is not tenable for the Minister to keep saying work is underway, when beds are being closed and patients are waiting longer because of workforce shortages which Labour has known about for years.

“Mr Cunliffe needs to actually do something, rather than call for yet another report.”

Mr Ryall says National’s health discussion document proposes a number of measures that would start addressing the health workforce crisis.

Making hospitals better places to work through re-engaging doctors and nurses in the running of the health system.  If we can make our health system a more satisfying career, we will be able to build a stronger workforce.
Considering bonding medical graduates to work in hard-to-staff areas in return for student loan concessions. By paying for more of their education we could ensure that young doctors stay in New Zealand where they’re needed, for longer.
Make medical training a priority.  We are discussing increasing the number of funded medical student places on offer at New Zealand universities. The increased focus would include more training in rural and provincial areas. Overseas experience shows that medical graduates with substantial training and exposure in rural and provincial areas are much more likely to return to work in such areas.

“Patients should worry about Labour’s neglect because it means we won't have the doctors and nurses to provide the quality operations and health services we expect. Workforce shortages mean a repeat of the Wanganui scandal of last month.

“National is committed to delivering fresh thinking in health to ensure that all Kiwis have good access to world-class health care,” says Mr Ryall.


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