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Revelations that the Government had to call in the army to prop up its hospitals during the recent nurses’ industrial action is further evidence that this Government has lost control of the health sector, National’s spokesperson for Health Michael Woodhouse says.

“News that nurses from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) were used to plug the gaps during the nationwide nurse’s strike is not only unprecedented, but it raises far more questions than the Minister has answered.

“It has been nearly a fortnight since that strike and the public was only told today that Defence Force personnel were propping up our health service. It just shows how much of a mess the Government’s management of the nurses’ industrial dispute has become.

“When Health Minister David Clark said that the talks to prepare for the nurses strike were an ‘operational issue' between DHBs and nurses and the Government was taking a keen interest, he clearly should have told the public that the Government was making arrangements to call in the army to fix the situation that he had helped create.

“The nurses’ strike action is a result of the Government completely mishandling the situation. It raised wage expectations and then failed to meet them, instead prioritising other spending.

“While the health of New Zealanders is a top priority, it shouldn’t be left to the NZDF to cover for this Government’s failings.

“In a time when we are asking our Defence Force to do more, both domestically and internationally, it’s not appropriate that the Government is trying to cover up the consequences of their mishandling with nurses who have roles and responsibilities elsewhere.”

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