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Health Minister Using Misleading Figures



“Health Minister Using Misleading Figures Over Hospital Doctor Numbers to Fudge Specialist Shortages”

“Health Minister Tony Ryall is using misleading figures over doctor numbers in order to fudge public hospital specialist shortages,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. In his release of the quarterly performance of government targets by district health boards, Mr Ryall claimed that the number of hospital doctors had increased by 800 over the three years since he became Health Minister.

“The truth reveals a much different situation. Based on figures provided to us by all district health boards, the number of public hospital specialists increased by only 373 over the three years from July 2008 to July 2011. Even an extra 373 specialists is inflated because it includes some short-term appointments.”

“This is well short of the over 200 extra hospital specialists per year for the next 20 years that we have agreed with the district health boards that we need, if we are to overcome our workforce crisis and catch up with Australia.”

“Mr Ryall might want to think about what he asks for in making this kind of claim. One could point out that in the three year period ending July 2008 the number of specialists increased by 501, nearly 130 more than on his watch.”

“Mr Ryall was surprised and annoyed by the heckling he received from doctor delegates at our Annual Conference last November in response his claim of 800 extra doctors. But could he have expected otherwise when hospital specialists have to cope with shortages while struggling to provide quality care to their patients and then are confronted with this misleading fiction.”

“When in opposition (and even as late as 2010) Mr Ryall said that addressing the hospital specialist workforce crisis was his top priority. We never realised that he would do this by producing spreadsheet doctors,” concluded Mr Powell.


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