Will the Minister now take responsibility for the crisis at Middlemore Hospital?

Middlemore Hospital is in the highest risk area in the current Covid outbreak and needs leadership from the Minister of Health – not abdication of responsibility, says National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“Instead of rebuking me in the House for asking if he takes responsibility for the situation at Middlemore, the Minister needs to own the issues and ensure the health workforce at Middlemore is working safely. If staff are at risk, he needs to fix the problems immediately.

“He could start by reversing his Government’s pay freeze – a freeze on pay rises for reduced numbers of doctors and nurses working exceptionally hard in the middle of a pandemic at Middlemore.

“Andrew Little needs to answer many questions over the Thursday case. How many contacts, close and casual, are involved? Were there enough staff on duty and have they been working safe hours? Have they all completed mask-fit testing? Are they wearing appropriate PPE? And, after testing positive for Covid, was the person placed in an isolation room?

“The ongoing impact on elective services at Middlemore also needs to be addressed. How many elective surgeries, CT scans, X-rays, MRI and lab tests have been cancelled at Middlemore this week? How many were for time-sensitive cancer cases and what is the plan to reschedule them?

“Was a diversion of ambulances to Middlemore put in place last night? How often is this happening and should Middlemore be on permanent diversion for all but critical cases for the next two weeks?

“The Minister must answer these important questions. He has had choices during this crisis but, instead, has made the wrong choice to make health restructuring the Government’s health funding priority, as Cabinet documents show.

“The Minister must reverse the pay freeze and support Middlemore Hospital.”