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We promote, protect and support the interests of our members in all aspects of their working lives. We are working for an equitable, accessible public health care system that meets the needs of all New Zealanders.

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‘Fix-it’ notice needed on critical health system understaffing

18 June 2021 ASMS Media Release

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora says an urgent ‘fix-it’ notice needs to be issued to address an understaffing crisis across the health system.

According to Radio New Zealand, Worksafe has issued Wellington Free Ambulance with a ‘fix-it’ notice over worker fatigue. Ambulance staff themselves blame the situation on a massive shortfall in staffing.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says staffing shortfalls are the new normal in health, leading to high levels of burnout, people leaving and unfilled gaps.

“We have estimated shortages of senior doctors of around 24% nationwide and one in two are suffering signs of burnout. Last week we saw nurses on the streets striking in support of a pay rise but also protesting against unsafe staffing levels across DHBs”.

She says every day is a tough day at the office on the frontline of healthcare at the moment.

“People are fatigued and burned out as they juggle critical staffing shortages with increased patient demand, bed occupancy rates regularly running at 100% and frontline cancer and mental health services, to name just a couple, desperately overstretched”.

“The Government seems to think we can continue to burn through health workers and more will pop up. That’s simply not the case,” she says.

“We need a health system in which people want to work. That means valuing and investing in the workers we do have by offering pay and conditions which will encourage recruitment and retention”.

With the demand for health services projected to increase at higher rates than the health workforce can keep up with in the next ten years, ASMS is calling on the Government to urgently commit to proper workforce planning.

“The longer the Government waits to act on the critical understaffing in our hospitals and health services, the harder the fix will be,” Sarah Dalton says.