Cambridge Edition

Health crisis – what health crisis?

- Virginia Fallon

Kia ora and welcome to the latest episode of New Zealand Doesn’t Have A Health Crisis. Yes, you’re right, this series has been running for ages and is really getting a bit dull and deja vu-ish but, if you can bear to stick with me, this segment really is a doozy.

While in past instalment­s we’ve had life-threatenin­g waiting times at emergency department­s and the impossibil­ity of signing up to a medical centre, this week things are finally jumping the shark.

Because now the very people who save us are begging us to save them.

As Health Minister Andrew Little continues to choke on the C-word, medical profession­als are using increasing­ly desperate measures to try to get help.

And though those measures vary, the sentiment is the same: things are bad and rapidly getting worse.

In a rare move, wrung-out general practices have gone public with a plea to save family doctors, asking Kiwis to sign an actual petition in an effort to shame the Government into some sort of action. Run by the associatio­n GenPro, which represents more than 400 practices, the petition is accompanie­d by a grim report called ‘‘On the Brink’’. While that title sums it all up, the report’s contents outline the urgent need for pay parity for GP nurses and doctors, an increase in workforce numbers and improved funding allocation­s for practices.

Accompanyi­ng the report accompanyi­ng the petition is a campaign highlighti­ng the ‘‘soul-destroying’’ working conditions faced by associatio­n members. It’d be a rare New Zealander who doesn’t know what those conditions are, because most of us have been on the end of them. For the privileged few who haven’t, though: underpaid doctors are working in underfunde­d practices that can’t meet the demand of a sick public.

GenPro’s Tim Molloy says there are about 1000 GPs missing from family practices; just as latest figures show only 15 extra were practising in June this year compared with a year ago.

Couple that with provisiona­l results from 180 surveyed clinics showing more than half weren’t enrolling new patients, and you can understand why our GPs are longingly eyeing overseas salaries.

Having our doctors beg for signatures from people they’re trying to save is bad enough, but in our hospitals things have got even more wretched.

Brilliantl­y, nurses at

Wellington Hospital have started handing out cards bearing Little’s contact details in response to abuse about long waits in ED. That department, by the way, hasn’t had one day in the past 18 months when its corridors haven’t been stacked with people needing help.

The card idea sprang from a nurse who had been verbally abused by a patient, a union delegate says, and a little bag of the laminated things has been sitting at the triage desk for the past few weeks as other staff followed suit.

Typically, hospital management has responded to this perfectly appropriat­e protest by demanding nurses stop being naughty; incorrectl­y accusing them of breaching Little’s privacy, and launching an investigat­ion.

Little, meanwhile, says frontline services are under pressure from staff shortages and ‘‘to fix the problems in ED we need to fix the problems in primary care, in aged residentia­l care, in allied healthcare’’.

So here ends this latest episode of NZ Doesn’t Have a Health Crisis.

Thanks for sticking with me and please tune in next time to see what antics our wayward medical profession­als get up to.

And if you’re looking for something to do in the meantime, I’ll save you the trouble of checking the Beehive website:

 ?? ?? New Zealand’s medical profession­als are crying out for help.
New Zealand’s medical profession­als are crying out for help.
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand