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Nursing crisis not imagined, Minister

Jo Goodhew MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

2 September 2008

Nursing crisis not imagined, Minister

“Labour’s ‘crisis, what crisis?’ denial of the nursing workforce crisis in our nation’s hospitals is coming back to haunt Health Minister David Cunliffe,” says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman Jo Goodhew.

Figures released by Christchurch Hospital today prove that Health Minister David Cunliffe was just blustering when National pointed to major gaps in nursing numbers in June this year.

National pointed to a 46% increase in nursing vacancies across New Zealand, only to be accused by the Minister of ‘Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics’.

“Instead of confronting the issue head on, the Minister tried to pretend it did not exist. The cold hard facts are that at some district health boards the shortfall is far worse than 46%.

“Nursing shortages are causing cancellations in surgery and closing beds, while a shortage of ICU nurses is affecting heart patients. Yet the Minister remains in denial,” says Mrs Goodhew, who is a former nurse.

Canterbury District Health Board had an average of 71 vacancies in any one month in 2005 to 2006. Now they have 211 vacancies, and have had to cancel operations on 10 occasions over the past two months.

“Mr Cunliffe’s response has been to look at extending the role of enrolled nurses, something National’s Health Discussion Document proposed more than a year ago.

“This is now part of a pattern for the ambitious Minister. He has also adopted National’s proposals for integrated health centres, more frontline involvement in the running of our hospitals, a pledge to reprioritise the army of bureaucrats, and voluntary bonding through student loans write-offs.

“All of these things sound very familiar to National, and the many hundreds of people who have contributed to our policy process.”


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