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Coronavirus: More workers needed to support aging health sector, says Dr Lance O'Sullivan

The health sector may need to "create a new workforce" to support its aging staff amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to Dr Lance O'Sullivan.  

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The former New Zealander of the Year says the Government needs to look at how to protect older health workers. Source: Breakfast

The former New Zealander of the Year says more changes need to be made within the industry to support the aging workforce, as at least 50 per cent of nurses are over the age of 50. He believes they shouldn't be fronting the outbreak. 

"What are you going to do with people who are working in the health force who are over the age of 60 or 65 because they are the most at risk of coronavirus." 

He says there is not enough younger trained staff to be able to support a significant outbreak on the front line.

"They're not going to find them, they're just not going to find them, 50 per cent of GPs are gonna be retired in the next 10 years." 

Dr Lance O'Sullivan believes the health sector will need to look at how they assess patients, advocating for virtual "telehealth" consultation of patients. 

He says it would allow general practitioners to see more patients daily through virtual consultations. 

"It’s nothing like a crisis to result in perhaps a real change that results in a whole different model of care."

According to Dr O'Sullivan virtual consultations would allow for general practitioners to see up to 250 patients a day.