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Labour tries to hide health failure

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

3 November 2008

Labour tries to hide health failure

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says papers showing health services in the country's north are under critical or major pressure are the tip of an iceberg.

"This information would not have been released before the election. New Zealanders expect their Government to confront and fix the problems, not hide them."

The confidential report by the four northern district health boards to the Health Ministry's national capital committee on long-term planning for facilities and services flags serious problems, particularly in emergency departments, and highlights critical workforce shortages.

"Labour has no plan to deal with the workforce crisis, because up until the middle of this year they were refusing to accept there was any problem at all.

"A responsible Government wouldn't have tried to hide these problems, it would have started to deal with them sooner.'

The report shows:

* Shortages of cardiothoracic intensive care nurses.

* Shortages of nurses, midwives, medical and radiation cancer specialists, kidney staff and other health workers has a number of services "challenged to deliver appropriate levels of service".

* Shortages of resident medical officers [junior doctors].

* A shortage of operating theatre capacity and/or support facilities like intensive care beds.

* Growing demand for medical imaging in the face of increasing workforce shortages.

"Labour has done 55 workforce reports since it came to office. David Cunliffe's most recent response is that he boldly plans to get a different group of bureaucrats to do another report. This is nuts.

"After nine-long years, an extra $6 billion a year, and thousands of new bureaucrats - New Zealanders deserve better."

Mr Ryall says National has been rolling out a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the health workforce crisis, which includes the voluntary bonding of doctors, nurses and midwives in hard-to-staff areas and specialities.


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