Double blow imminent: it’s time to declare an emergency for health workers
“Healthcare workers have a higher level of risk of exposure to Omicron – and with current withdrawal and isolation requirements – this creates a double whammy for an overstretched healthcare system trying to function when it lacks even more staff than usual,” says Alistair Humphrey, president of the New Zealand Medical Association.
Today, the New Zealand Medical Association joins the Association of Salaried Specialist Physicians in declaring a health workforce emergency.
“It is really difficult to consistently provide the best patient care that New Zealanders have come to expect when our healthcare professionals are overstretched,” says Alistair.
“For most of us who are vaccinated, if we get sick with COVID-19, we will only experience mild illness. However, for children too young to be vaccinated, our immunocompromised whanau and others, they may need hospital care.
“With overcrowded hospitals, that may not be a possibility for many people. Despite their best efforts, doctors are not receiving the resources or support to provide the level of care that New Zealanders have come to expect in the past.
“Many patients have to wait weeks or longer to see a GP. As a result, some patients are presenting to clinics and emergency departments after hours, where wait times during peak periods can be extended by several hours. This is compounded by the fact that healthcare staff have to carefully put on and take off PPE between patients – consultations now take much longer, even though they would usually have been relatively short.
“Covid-19 will not be the last, or even the deadliest pandemic. Now is the time to recognize and invest in our hard-working healthcare professionals for the important work they do to protect the health of New Zealanders. If we all do our part, we can get through this together and be better prepared for next time,” says Alistair.