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"Pincer Movement Traps Public Hospitals"

"Pincer Movement Traps Public Hospitals"

Erratic decision-making, heavy-handed management and examples of gaga behaviour characterise New Zealand’s health care system at the moment, the union for senior doctors and dentists here has told an Australian conference.

Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), says hospital specialists here are grappling with ongoing staff shortages on the one hand and a deliberate government policy of under-funding hospitals on the other.

“It’s a pincer movement that requires a calm head and some good manoeuvring on the part of health managers,” he told the Australian Medical Association’s industrial coordination meeting in Canberra. “What we’re seeing instead is a focus on short-term solutions without proper consideration of the long-term effects.”

“This is making for a difficult working environment in New Zealand’s public hospitals, with extra pressure on specialists and others working on the clinical front line, a lack of real engagement with senior doctors, and indications of increased bullying and threats against those who speak out about their concerns.”

Mr Powell says health managers need to focus on solutions that will help create a sustainable health care system instead of rushing from problem to problem with short-term fixes.

“We don’t need any more band-aids. There are some significant problems to deal with, including paying for the actual costs of running hospitals, staffing them properly, and involving senior doctors and dentists in decisions. The Government needs to step up to the challenge, and so do the people managing our hospitals.”

“The government is responsible for the intense pressures on public hospitals. Senior managers are responsible for whether or not they respond to it by short-term panic management and political brown-nosing,” concluded Mr Powell.


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