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Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the Covid pandemic is taking a massive toll on public health teams in Auckland which have been working tirelessly for months without a break.

A call has gone out to other public health specialists around the country to give some short-term support, so those involved in the northern Covid response can take leave.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says there are some very tired doctors and staff at the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

“Our public health specialists are carrying a heavy burden right now.  They are a small team trying to keep our team of five million safe.  We are concerned that due to long term underfunding of public health capacity, finding backfill and extra support for them will not be easy”.

A Ministry of Health review released this week – Health Sector Response to the 2019 Measles Outbreak – highlighted the stretched public health system and said the Auckland Regional Public Health Service did not have enough resources to keep up with contact tracing during that time.

“We know the government has put more money into public health to deal with the Covid response, but overall the budget for public health has not kept pace, and there are not enough training positions to address specialist shortages.

“In terms of immediate cover for the Auckland team, we are not confident that other regional services have people to spare as they are overseeing Covid quarantine and testing facilities, as well as continuing their core public health work.

“We owe our public health doctors and their teams so much and it’s past time we invested properly in this critical medical workforce,” Sarah Dalton says.