Multiple ICU failings from a distracted Minister

Health Minister Andrew Little has serious questions to answer over New Zealand’s Intensive Care Unit capacity, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

Hospital ICU capacity was so under-prepared for this Delta outbreak that the Auckland DHB was forced to issue an urgent callout for 30 ICU nurses on 1 September.

“This is not surprising when answers to my latest written questions have disclosed that 15 vital nurses from Auckland ICU resigned in May, June and July. I’m told they went to Australia due the Government’s pay freeze.

“The fiscal restraint directed at nurses clearly doesn’t apply to the health bureaucracy though with $4.3 million recently spent on 21 Ernst Young contractors for advice on the dangerous and disruptive health restructure.

“This money should have been spent on preparing the frontline health system for Delta not a poorly timed restructure.

“As well as losing critical nurses, the Government has also allowed ICU beds to fall from the outbreak last year. Every ICU beds needs 5.3 nurses but the Minister has suddenly decided the ratio is 1.1 so it is highly likely our ICU capacity is even worse than his official figures.

“And when is the Government going to address the border debacle to allow in the much needed 675 doctors and 2230 nurses doctors who have been stuck in the frozen skilled migrant category for up to 18 months?

“I call on the Minister to be honest about the number of resourced ICU beds, to urgently address ICU shortages at the border, and to redirect the almost $500 million he plans to spend on a dangerous and disruptive health restructure to the frontline of our health system instead.”

You can read responses to relevant Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQs) here.