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Figures show major gaps in nursing

Jo Goodhew MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

11 June 2008

Figures show major gaps in nursing

National is releasing figures obtained through the Official Information Act which reveal the human cost of the health workforce crisis, with hundreds of operations being cancelled due to nursing shortages, says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman Jo Goodhew.

“This is the human face of the workforce crisis. Large numbers of prolonged nursing vacancies, and operations being cancelled as a result. Meanwhile, Labour has recruited an army of bureaucrats, even while culling people from waiting lists.”

The figures show there has been a 46% increase in the average number of nurse vacancies across the country between 2005/06 and 2007/08. The same figures show hundreds of operations are being cancelled because of the crisis (**attached).

“The three Auckland health boards have cancelled nearly 1,000 theatre lists due to the nursing shortage. It’s becoming harder and harder to recruit and retain our nurses, and OECD figures have shown that 23% of NZ-born nurses are now working overseas.”

Mrs Goodhew, a former nurse, says a recent snapshot of DHB nursing vacancies reveals as many as 63% of the vacancies are for medical and surgical specialist nurses.

“And that’s where some of the bottlenecks are happening. It’s also the most cruel, because elective surgery is being axed due to the workforce crisis. Labour has made a song and dance out of announcing funding for additional surgery, all the while knowing that the workforce is not available for the operations to happen. It’s just a cruel hoax.”

She says Labour has done 43 reports on the workforce crisis since it came to office.

“We’ve had report, after report. Now we’re hearing that deficits are threatened at many of our district health boards, while the bureaucrat army now numbers more than 10,000.”

National’s health discussion document proposes a number of measures to start dealing with the workforce crisis, such as bonding students in hard-to-staff areas, and engaging frontline medical professionals more in the running of health services.

“Labour is taking up some of National’s suggestions. It’s a pity they’ve waited until election year to start doing something about this stuff,” says Mrs Goodhew.

ENDS

Attached: Goodhew__Nursing_VacanciesJune_08.xls

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