2 Dec 2018

Doctors and dentists lobby for 'safe staffing accord'

8:19 pm on 2 December 2018

Doctors and dentists are calling on the government to provide safe staffing levels in public hospitals.

Doctor in hospital corridor

Photo: 123rf

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says it has a 50 percent burnout rate for its members and high levels of job dissatisfaction.

Its executive director Ian Powell said 25 percent of specialists want to leave public hospitals in the next five years.

He said that's not sustainable and it's not good for patient care.

Mr Powell said the district health boards will not act so he's calling on the Health Minister David Clark to support a safe staffing accord for doctors and dentists.

"The district health boards have told us informally they have no appetite for this, which means that they have no sense of responsibility, they have no sense of pastoral care for the specialist workforce that they employ.

"So we're calling on the minister to put the heat on the district health boards to actually behave like responsible employers."

Mr Powell said if the minister does not act, he will become responsible for the crisis.

But Health Minister David Clark said staffing shortages in public hospitals cannot be solved overnight.

He said there are workload and capacity problems across a range of specialities that will take some time to address.

Mr Clark said more specialists need to be trained, retained and recruited over time.

He said he would continue to work with the association and district health boards to improve workforce sustainability.

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