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DHBs weigh up cost of doctors' strike

Tony Ryall MP National Party Health Spokesman

15 April 2008

DHBs weigh up cost of doctors' strike

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says the looming junior doctors' strike is expected to force the cancellation of hundreds of operations and thousands of specialist appointments at hospitals around the country.

"District Health Boards have also now agreed to an emergency contingency plan to pay senior doctors up to $300 per hour during daylight and $500 per hour at night on top of the usual pay rate, to cover for their junior colleagues on strike."

Mr Ryall says Health Minister David Cunliffe has confirmed in Parliament today that 800 patients will have their elective surgery postponed and 5,500 specialist appointments will be postponed.

"More patients will miss out on their operations and won't get to see a specialist. More people will be forced back on the waiting list, to await the Government's next waiting list cull.

"These are the human casualties of Labour's health workforce crisis.

"Meanwhile, DHBs are spending $100 million a year on locums just to fill the gaps, people can't get on a GP's books, and Kiwi women are struggling to find midwives given the shortages throughout the country.

"The workforce crisis is not new. Labour has produced 43 reports on the workforce crisis since it came to office, but still there are critical shortages.

"Labour is spending $6 billion extra a year on health and it has built up an army of bureaucrats. Yet the public still can't get an operation when they need it - and if they're lucky enough to be scheduled for one - they get it cancelled because the workforce crisis hasn't been fixed.

"New Zealanders are sick of the reports, strategies and action plans. After nine years they want more action, not more plans for action."

ENDS

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