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Health workforce crisis deepens

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

1 October 2008

Health workforce crisis deepens

National Party health spokesman Tony Ryall says new figures showing the number of medical practices which are closing their books should add fresh urgency to any Government response.

"Patients are waiting longer and longer to see their doctor. That's if they can get on the books. Labour's had nine years to start dealing with the crisis. Instead, they've ordered 55 reports, and the current grand plan is to get a new group of bureaucrats to provide new reports.

"There are now fewer GPs in New Zealand than there were in 1999."

Mr Ryall says the answer to an official Parliamentary question shows that across the country dozens of practices have closed their books.

"Thousands of patients are struggling to find a family GP and that is no good for patients.

"This needs to be laid alongside the staffing crisis that has been allowed to develop in hospitals."

Mr Ryall says National has a comprehensive plan to start tackling the health workforce crisis.

"Of course it starts with our economic programme which includes better after-tax incomes and a growing economy. In the past week, National has also unveiled plans to significantly increase the number of medical students and GP training places*, and offer voluntary bonding arrangements for doctors, nurses, and midwives who agree to work in hard-to-staff areas**.

"We have also been long time advocates for doctors and nurses to be given more trust in the running of our health services."

Mr Ryall says the current Labour Government is quietly moving to adopt many of National's ideas, but in the interim, David Cunliffe is calling for a new group of bureaucrats to provide him with more reports.

"That really is a pathetic response to a long-running crisis."


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