14 Apr 2009

Worst junior-doctor shortage may force more cuts

6:22 pm on 14 April 2009

A serious shortage of junior doctors may force the Waitemata District Health Board to temporarily close more of its services over the coming months.

The board has the worst shortage of registrars and house officers in the country, with some parts of its two hospitals more than 40% short of what's needed.

Gynaecology services have had to be closed at North Shore Hospital twice over the past few weeks because not enough staff could be found to ensure safe care.

And board papers are forecasting that further resignations could see some services shut down at Waitakere Hospital and care provided through North Shore Hospital instead.

Chief medical officer Johan Rosman says, however, that that's only a contingency plan.

Deborah Powell of the Resident Doctors Association, which represents junior doctors, says the board did not listen to the union when it warned of the staffing crisis and now the situation is a mess.