Andrew Little ignored health sector pleas a year ago

Newly released information shows that Health Minister Andrew Little ignored warnings a year ago about the risk of crippling health shortages, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“An urgent letter on behalf of all 20 DHBs was sent to health officials in July 2021 warning of impending health workforce shortages and requesting immediate changes to immigration settings.


“After receiving the letter warning of a looming storm about to hit the health sector, Andrew Little decided to ignore it and pushed on with his health restructure.


“The letter clearly outlines the danger of critical workforce shortages, the need for overseas trained staff, and an expected increase in demand in emergency departments. Unfortunately, this gloomy prognosis from the sector has come true.


“The Health Minister is failing at his core responsibility of ensuring New Zealanders have access to health care, all because he is distracted by his ideologically driven desire to restructure the health bureaucracy.


“New Zealanders are now missing out on health care because Minister Little has failed to act on warnings from the sector. Meanwhile, New Zealand is missing out on nurses to Australia because the Government has refused to put them on the fast-tracked residency pathway. Now we are dangerously 4,000 nurses short and have a health sector slowly falling apart at the seams.


“Andrew Little needs to explain why he didn’t listen to pleas from the sector last year about the coming workforce shortage, and why he didn’t take urgent action to bring more workers in from overseas.”