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Strike to take far bigger toll than Labour admits

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

17 April 2008

Strike to take far bigger toll than Labour admits

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says the impact on patients of the junior doctors’ strike is going to be far greater than Labour has so far been prepared to admit.

“Health Minister David Cunliffe claimed the disruption nationally will affect 6,300 patients, but today in Parliament he upgraded his estimate to 8,000.

“However, a memo I have obtained shows that in Auckland DHB alone more than 1,500 specialist appointments and surgeries are being postponed.

“On that basis, the total number of patients likely to be affected nationally would be around 10,000.”

The memo says the ‘ADHB's contingency planning continues. As we will be operating acute services only during this time, to date 1,248 outpatient appointments and 275 elective surgeries have been postponed’.

“The human cost of this cruel strike is mounting by the day. Patients who have waited in great discomfort for brain surgery or heart surgery are being told their operations are cancelled and they may have to wait months to get treated.

“The workforce crisis is spreading like a virus through the health system forcing DHBs to spend $100 million a year on locums just to fill the gaps, while people can’t get on a GP’s books, and Kiwi women are struggling to find midwives given the shortages throughout the country.

“Despite Labour spending an extra $6 billion a year on health, ordering 43 workforce reports, and building an army of bureaucrats, there are now endless staff shortages and strikes affecting thousands of patients.

“The Minister today had no word of hope or comfort for the thousands of patients who’ve been waiting in pain for elective surgery, only to have it delayed again.

“Those delays leave patients suffering for longer, and cause a great deal of distress for their families.”

ENDS

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