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Patients suffer while Beehive dithers

Hon Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health spokesman

6 May 2008

Patients suffer while Beehive dithers

Patients will continue to suffer while the Minister of Health sits in the Beehive dithering over what to do about recurring junior doctors’ strikes, says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

"Helen Clark has told David Cunliffe to "fix it" but the Health Minister doesn't know what to do.

"The junior doctors don't trust him to set up an independent committee to look at ongoing pay and conditions.

"What is being forgotten by the union, Mr Cunliffe, and his DHBs is that innocent patients are bearing the brunt of these strikes. It's time both sides thought about the human cost of their actions.

“Instead of trying to come to some sort of compromise, both sides are sniping at each other. And the Health Minister isn't helping with his abuse.

“A good number of junior doctors decided to continue working during the last strike, and the public will hope that sort of goodwill is maintained this time.

“Adding to the pressure of the strike is the Minister's confusing position on his own negotiators. A fortnight ago he was praising his DHB negotiators and saying he was 'comfortable’ with their approach.

“Yesterday, it was reported that he wants the Ministry of Health to play the major role in future pay negotiations. Well, why would he want to change the approach if he thought it was working?

"The Minister of Health has to deal with the underlying health workforce crisis. New Zealanders are now seeing routine evidence of staff shortages and bureaucracy out of control in health.

"Over the past eight years, Labour has produced 43 reports on the health workforce crisis, formed endless committees, and achieved little. New Zealand needs to do more to both recruit and retain its health workforce.”

Mr Ryall says National's health discussion paper Better, Sooner, More Convenient proposes moving towards medical training self-sufficiency, investigating bonding and student-loan write-offs for health professionals working in hard-to-staff areas, lower taxes, and re-engaging doctors and nurses in the running of the health system.

ENDS

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