Region's rise in doctor numbers 'paltry'

South Canterbury is not as flush with senior doctors as the Government has reported, according to the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists.

Association executive director Ian Powell said Health Minister Tony Ryall had made health figures look better than they really were. His comments are in response to a story in The Timaru Herald last week, based on information from the Ministry of Health, stating the region had 22 more doctors, excluding GPs, than in 2008. "The minister of health has been making the numbers look rosier than they are by mixing hospital specialists, who are the country's most senior doctors, with the number of resident doctors who are doctors-in-training at the start of their careers," Powell said.

"When we look at the head count data the South Canterbury DHB has given us for the period of July 1, 2008, to the end of June 2013, we see the number of hospital specialists has risen by just nine over the past five years.

"That increase is paltry when you take into account the pressure on specialists and DHBs to provide more health services," he said. "The people of South Canterbury need accurate data about the clinical workforce and the pressures facing services in the region, not this kind of cynical electioneering."

The Timaru Herald