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This week’s junior doctors’ strike will not only cause mass disruption but could put lives at risk, National’s Health Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Up to 4000 doctors are striking for the week meaning thousands of procedures and appointments will be cancelled. It’s the longest strike we’ve ever had.

“Major surgeries such as cardiac and cancer surgery are being delayed and it is not overstating it to say that the wellbeing of patients will be seriously compromised, possibly resulting in loss of life as a consequence of delayed treatment.

“Health Minister David Clark has sat on his hands and let this occur under his watch, he’s letting the unions have the final say when it should be down to district health boards (DHB) and hospital chief executives. He can no longer sit on the side-lines and leave it to the DHBs. He must ensure the dispute is settled so patients receive the care they deserve.

“Labour talked big in opposition about reining in the deficits at our DHBs but instead we’ve seen them sink further into red ink, with the combined deficit likely to reach $500 million by the end of the financial year.

“New Zealanders deserve the right to consistent and reliable healthcare. The Minister needs to sort his mess out or we’ll continue to have our health system mired by strikes for the rest of the year.”

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