ASMS

Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

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Women patients pay price as staffing shortages put hospitals on edge

8 October 2019 Media Release - ASMS

Women patients are paying the price for gaping holes as dire staffing shortages put hospitals on the edge, says Angela Belich, Acting Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

RNZ reported today that women in Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, South Canterbury and Blenheim are turning away women with “non-urgent” gynaecological conditions due to a shortage of specialists: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/400491/women-denied-treatment-for-gynaecological-conditions

In August a similar situation was reported at Counties Manukau District Health Board.

“It’s distressing to think that women are suffering and having to manage painful conditions because of the ongoing crisis in specialist staffing,” Ms Belich says.

ASMS has conducted a series of surveys of District Health Board heads of department to ascertain the level of specialist shortages in different parts of the country. The surveys reveal an average shortage of 24% – and in some DHBs it is far higher.

“Coping with staffing shortages has become the new normal and hospitals are being forced to operate on the edge,” says Ms Belich.

“Specialists and DHBs don’t want to turn people away but are being left with no choice.”

“The Government expects to post a surplus of $7.5 billion, the biggest in a decade, and should be investing part of it to repair the damage wrought by at least a decade of underfunding.”

For too long successive governments have ignored workforce shortages, which has led to high levels of stress and burnout among hospital specialists as well as restricted access to services.