Urgent action needed on health workforce shortage

Published: Mon 13 Nov 2006 08:59 AM
Urgent action needed on health workforce shortage
With continuing reports of nursing and junior doctor shortages, it’s time the Government took action rather than call for more reports, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.
"The most pressing issue in health today is the shortage of critical staff – nurses and doctors. Yet the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson, continues to focus on peripheral issues.”
Mr Ryall’s comments follow reports today that half the country’s newly registered nurses this year are from overseas and Auckland’s three DHBs are short of 84 junior doctors.
"The Government knew these shortages were coming but has done no planning or preparation to deal with them.
“Instead, Pete Hodgson has floundered around with side issues, ignoring the storm of staffing crises befalling the health sector.
"New Zealand’s health staffing policy is uncoordinated and contradictory. On a population basis, New Zealand is the world’s biggest importer of doctors, but also the biggest exporter of doctors. More than half of our new nurses this year are from overseas, yet half our nursing graduates can't get jobs.
“The Government needs to realise that endless bureaucracy is driving people out of the health system. That’s why we are losing our own people. And bureaucracy is making it even harder to recruit people into New Zealand. DHBs and health recruiters tell me it takes far too long to get applicants through most of the professional registration organisations.
"The problem of waiting trolleys jammed into hospital corridors is set to get worse. Industrial action will see even more patients culled from waiting lists.
"Mr Hodgson should stop fluffing around with peripheral issues and deal with the staffing crisis now.
“National would invest in a significant expansion in medical student places, particularly GP training places. We would have more training in rural and provincial areas, which research shows makes it more likely that medical professionals will stay and work in these areas.
“We would investigate ways in which nursing graduates could gain much-needed work experience. And a National-led government would cut personal taxes, making it more rewarding to stay in New Zealand.
“More importantly, National would encourage greater respect and co-operation with our health professionals, rather than Pete Hodgson’s high-handed Wellington-knows-best values,” says Mr Ryall.

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