The Government’s cuts to the health sector have left doctors and nurses overworked and stretched to breaking point, with more than eight million hours of annual leave currently owed, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.
“National has cut $1.7 billion from the health budget over six years. We’re now seeing the results - health professionals and other DHB staff so overworked they have had to put off taking millions of hours of annual leave.
“Information obtained by Labour shows that staff in 18 DHB regions were owed 8.6 million hours in annual leave to the end of June last year.
“That means staff have in those DHBs have an average of 146 hours – more than two weeks – of leave they haven’t been able to take.
“Such large numbers of missed holidays show just how stretched our health sector has become under National – thousands of health professionals putting off a break because there is no one to cover when they are away.
“The spectre of tired, overworked medical staff making mistakes should surely ring alarm bells. Only last week the nurses’ organisation was saying its members are increasingly being asked to take on more responsibilities and heavier workloads.
“Our health workers are making a heroic effort to continue to care for Kiwis despite the lack of resources from the Government.
“Most of us had a break over Christmas. Patients shouldn’t have to rely on their health professionals giving up their holidays so they can get the care they need,” says Annette King.