Auckland hospitals hit the headlines recently over their inability to treat patients in a timely manner, a problem resulting from reduced staff numbers because of the ‘flu or Covid.

Yes, that’s right, 100% vaccinated and boosted doctors and nurses are succumbing to Covid.

The latest incident was a woman forced to lie in her own urine for 14 hours at North Shore Hospital which followed an earlier incident at Middlemore where a “healthy” 50-year-old woman was sent home after allegedly being told by staff there would be an eight-hour wait before she was examined. She died of a brain bleed.

Mandatory vaccination backfired spectacularly when efficacy turned out to be mere weeks when vaccinated and boosted staff became infected with Covid-19, some repeatedly.

How many medical staff are we short, excluding those currently off work sick?

A commonly quoted figure is that we are about 4000 nurses short, of which about 3000 are public health nurses.

But some cite bigger numbers. Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) executive director Sarah Dalton said in January that, to match Australian numbers per capita, New Zealand would need 1500 more hospital specialists, 1400 GPs and a staggering 12,000 nurses.

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The irony of vaccine failure is lost on this Government but not the hapless public crossing their fingers and hoping they won’t need the services of understaffed hospitals anytime soon.

The NZ Nurses Organisation has the Government over a barrel and this week Whangarei nurses put their demands for more money in writing.

Nursing staff, including health care assistants (HCAs) and other health workers, are worn out from working extra shifts to fill a large number of gaps in the nursing roster. 

“This is having a hugely negative effect on our personal wellbeing and family lives, leading to increased sick leave, burnout and resignations. Despite this, we have been working extra hours to keep the department safe for patients and support our colleagues.

“This has been done out of loyalty to our manager and the department but the good will has run out.”

While nursing staff are being offered an incentive payment, the payment being paid to doctors is eight times higher depending on the timing of the extra shifts. 

“Nurses are feeling really disrespected. This unequitable offer has left us feeling a deep lack of care or consideration from Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand. The doctors we’ve spoken to agree and are shocked by the offer. Payments should increase by the same percentage for nursing staff who are just as vital for patient wellbeing,”

NZ Nurses Organisation

When will the Minister of Health front up about the failure of the Pfizer vaccine to perform as promised? When someone asks him – either the media or MPs in the house, but since neither group has admitted vaccine failure much less demanded accountability – I wouldn’t bet on that happening.

Two weeks ago Christopher Luxon pussyfooted around the subject politely suggesting it was time to have a conversation about removing the vaccine mandate for health staff and this week Chris Bishop said it is time to scrap the Covid-19 vaccine mandates – just in the public health sector, mind, to let unvaccinated nurses and midwives get back to work.

So why not scrap the vaccine mandates for everyone if the vaccine isn’t doing the job?

Dr Shane Reti seems not to have noticed that the vaccine isn’t working as he is faffing around suggesting barriers be removed to allow overseas nurses to come to our rescue.

Has the National Party even discussed vaccine failure? If not, why not?

In any event, there has been no satisfactory response from the Minister of Health who is busily employing Ardern’s favourite remedy of chucking money at a problem, crossing fingers and hoping the problem dissolves, or at the very least none of the paid-for media ask about it.

Little said work was underway to lift nurses’ pay. “We’ve remained committed across the health workforce… to lift pay from the unfair levels they’ve been for a long time,” he said in the Beehive on Monday.

He said there were 7000 people sitting on a register, wanting to come and work in New Zealand.

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Instead of recruiting from overseas, NZ medical staff twiddling their thumbs at home after being sacked for refusing the vaccine should be reinstated immediately.

Suze

I am happily a New Zealander whose heritage shaped but does not define. Four generations ago my forebears left overcrowded, poverty ridden England, Ireland and Germany for better prospects here. They were...