New Zealand should convene a national healthcare summit to support frontline healthcare workers, especially during the covid pandemic, according to pharmaceutical specialist Sir Ray Avery.
A threat to the healthcare system is not covid but the desperate calls for help from frontline healthcare workers, he said.
“If we want to save our healthcare system, we need to apply as much effort as we have applied to contain covid to protect the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.
“Hospital emergency departments are at capacity and it’s not even winter. Patients are being treated in corridors, staff are reporting burnout and wait times are becoming longer.
“The Dunedin and Whangarei hospitals have reached capacity. The biggest district health board, Waitematā, is having to postpone operations due to the lack of nursing staff.
“This is all a legacy of our unhealthy lifestyles and lack of investment in promoting healthcare as a career.
“Middlemore is overwhelmed with diabetes patients because fast food companies, snack food and confectionery companies are fuelling an obesity epidemic.
“Lack of staff training in the control of infectious diseases and not being issued with the correct personal protection equipment are issues in us having the second highest rates of hospital-acquired infections in the developed world.
“Nursing is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers and yet the salary scales are way out of whack compared to jobs such as advertising executives promoting fast foods.
“We need an integrated preventative healthcare strategy rather than investing more money in the current healthcare system.
“We should conduct a national child nutrition survey to determine what deficiencies our children might have.
“Our covid protection border is fragile at best so as part of our covid mitigation strategy we need to set up a national emergency healthcare summit and listen to our frontline healthcare providers," said Sir Avery.