Home Medical profession ‘It will smash a lot’: Survey of doctors paints clear picture of workforce crisis

‘It will smash a lot’: Survey of doctors paints clear picture of workforce crisis

Doctors on the frontline say the situation for healthcare workers is 'beyond a crisis'.


Doctors on the frontline say the situation for healthcare workers is ‘beyond a crisis’.

Desperation, desperation and fear of patients dying in waiting rooms – doctors from all aspects of patient care say the healthcare system is beyond a crisis and they want the government to fix it recognize.

The survey, conducted by the New Zealand Women in Medicine (NZWIM) Charitable Trust, gathered more than 900 responses from doctors working in 30 different fields of medicine.

“The findings indicate that we are at risk of a catastrophic health workforce collapse,” the authors wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Health Ministers and Associate Health Ministers and leaders of Te Whatu Ora Health NZ on Monday. . A total of 923 doctors from GP clinics and hospitals signed their names to the letter, while survey comments were anonymized.

“So much [nurses] sick (and some of them because of burnout) that we have to close areas of the ward or work there alone without nursing support… Our triage nurses are so scared someone will die in the ward. ‘waiting – then they quit too,’ an ER doctor told the inquest.

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“The system is beyond a crisis. I feel sorry for the new graduates who are entering this crisis. It will break a lot of them, ”said a chief medical officer.

Almost all 911 respondents said there was either definitely a crisis (93.5%) or probably a crisis (6.3%) in New Zealand’s healthcare workforce.

Many said they regularly consider leaving the profession due to stress and unpaid hours: “With great sadness, I am leaving the GP workforce in the next few months to retrain. I love being a GP , but his future looks bleak and I don’t see anyone in 10 or 20 years ahead of me who is happy,” said a GP.

An emergency department clerk wrote: “I have no words to describe how dreadful the labor has become. I have yet to see an article that comes even closer to the reality of what it is like to work in healthcare right now.

Auckland GP and chair of the trust, Dr Orna McGinn, says doctors are beyond working harder.


Auckland GP and chair of the trust, Dr Orna McGinn, says doctors are beyond working harder.

The problems were nothing new, said Dr Orna McGinn, a general practitioner for east Auckland and chairman of the trust, but the pandemic and winter had meant the cracks could no longer be concealed.

“We’re not afraid to work hard, but we’re beyond working harder,” McGinn said.

“Concerns have been mitigated and dismissed; a ‘lack of listening’ has led to a disconnect between decision makers and those working within the system,” she said.

At the top of the list of recommendations is a call for officials to recognize that there is a crisis.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

Shirley Bielawski, 82, was abandoned by the healthcare system and lost her left eye as a result.

“Public statements by political leaders that there is ‘no crisis’ in the healthcare system have seemed increasingly out of step with the experience of physicians over the past year,” McGinn said. .

“I think that until it is recognized that there is a problem, it is not possible to solve it.”

Comments from respondents revealed deep distress among clinicians. The perilous state of the nursing, midwifery and paramedical staff was constantly mentioned as a major risk for the sustainability of the health system.

McGinn said her patients with a high body mass index (BMI) waiting for surgery for endometriosis, a painful condition, faced wait times of at least three years. These women were losing their jobs because they were unable to work while in so much pain, she said.

Patients with high BMIs were typically Maori and Pasifika, which exacerbated equity concerns, she said.

McGinn said doctors can’t address the entrenched inequities the new health care system was supposed to tackle when “we can’t even do the basics.”

“There’s the moral hurt of feeling we’re failing and falling behind in our efforts to close the equity gap when we can’t even admit sick patients to hospital, let alone screening, we can’t address inequalities when we’re fighting fires,” McGinn said.

Health Minister Andrew Little has been approached for comment.

Main recommendations:

  • Recognize that there is a workforce crisis with a need for immediate innovative solutions to ensure retention, recruitment and equity in all areas of healthcare.
  • Create a responsive model with adequate funding for primary care.
  • Integrate clinical leadership expertise into the planning and design of health services.
  • Develop a workforce health, safety and wellness strategy that underpins future planning.