Sick leave surveys not to be sneezed at

A survey showing growing numbers of doctors and dentists are going to work when they are sick should ring alarm bells, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

The survey by the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists found 88 per cent of senior doctors and dentists often or sometimes went to work while unwell during a 24-month period, with 75 per cent going in to work when they had an infectious illness.

“It follows similar findings from a survey carried out at Wellington Hospital last year when some 82 percent of respondents said they worked when sick, including with infectious diseases and vomiting and diarrhoea.

“And it comes just weeks after reports of nursing and other hospital staff missing meal breaks, working unpaid overtime and not taking annual leave because they don’t want to burden over-worked colleagues.

“These people are vital to a well-functioning health system, yet we have DHBs around the country choosing not to replace medical staff or fill non-clinical vacancies in an attempt to hit government targets and reduce deficits.

“Our medical professionals are doing their best, but when your best means you could be compromising patient care, then something’s got to change, and soon.  

“Properly investing in the sector – which this Government has failed to do, instead cutting $1.7 billion from Health over six years - would go a long way to addressing the problem,” Annette King says.