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Doctors warn of burnout danger

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/08/2016

The health of doctors needs to more of a focus for DHBs and the government, the New Zealand Medical Association says in the wake of research showing medical staff are increasingly burnt out and stressed.

A report from the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists has found half of doctors have symptoms of burnout, with many sometimes working shifts longer than 14 hours.

New Zealand Medical Association chair Stephen Child says he is seeing the same.

"I heard reports of senior specialists having 12 days on duty in an intensive care unit, with seven nights on call... four of those consecutively; another who was woken on three consecutive nights before working a 12-hour day," he said.

"Our patients deserve better."

The association has now called for DHBs to be assessed on doctors' welfare as part of their assessment.

They also want the government to consult on, and take into account, the effect on doctors' health when making changes to the healthcare system.

"We also recommend that training schedules and providing medical services should ensure reasonable working hours so that both doctors in training and senior staff are able to provide quality patient care," Dr Child said.

Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague says doctors are propping up the health sector at the expense of their own health.

"The government's underfunding has left our health system stretched beyond a safe point for those who work in it and those who use it," he said.

"When people go to hospital, they want to know that the doctor or dentist treating them is at their best, not burnt out and sleep deprived."

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