Lack of doctors is a major health concern

The report on doctor shortages released today by the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists should be a wake up call to the Government, says Labour's Health Spokesperson, Maryan Street.

“Current and projected shortages of medical specialists are of great concern to New Zealanders. They deserve to know that if they fall seriously ill, they will have access to the best possible care.

“This is a critical issue now as well as into the future. The Government has no plan to cope with our ageing population. As our over 65s increase in number, with more and more complex conditions, more specialists are going to be required.

“On top of that, 19% of our current specialists are due to retire in the next five years. We have an emerging disaster because this Government has failed to develop and implement a decent plan to deal with this.

"The ASMS report on persistent shortages of specialists in hospitals should provoke the Government into action and not just into writing another report.

"Health Minister Tony Ryall said in 2010 that the shortage of specialists was a major priority and yet there has been no discernible improvement in the rate of recruitment and retention of specialists since that time.

“His only action has been to throw around figures in a bid to disguise the real shortages – figures that have been proven wrong in the past.

“A report on the looming crisis in medical specialist numbers was done in 2010 but its recommended actions have not been implemented yet. It’s time this Government stopped talking about the problem and took action," said Maryan Street.