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Maternity Care Costs a Sign of Costs to Come


12 January 2001

Attention: Education, Political & Health Reporters
For immediate release

Maternity Care Costs a Sign of
Health Labour Costs to Come

Greater subsidies for maternity care proposed by the Health Funding Authority mark a trend of escalating Health Professional costs warns Otago University Students’ Association President Ayesha Verrall.

“New Zealand’s next generation of debt burdened doctors are even less likely to enter low paying areas like maternity care,” says Ms Verrall who is also a medical student.

“With the cost of training as a health professional being so high graduates will need extra incentives before they enter low—paying specialties.”
“The rising cost of maternity care and the pay increases for junior doctors mark a trend of greater demands on the public purse in order to retain graduates ”.

“Other low-paying medical specialties such as mental health, rural health care and geriatrics may also need extra incentives to attract professionals.”
“New Zealanders need to decide if we would rather pay for health training by funding education or face continued wage increases. The only other alternative is to lower the standard of care we expect to receive when we are unwell.”

The link between training costs and graduates career choices is well proven: “When the cost of medical education increased in the United States there was a drop in medical graduates entering general practice from 48% of graduates to 36%.”


References on the effect of student debt on the health workforce are attached on the following 1 page.

Ayesha Verrall, OUSA President
Ph: 03 479 5332
Cell: 021 2100 340

The Effect of Student Debt on the Health Workforce


Dr Pippa MacKay, elected New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) Chairperson during 1999 joined the debate with an editorial in the NZMA newsletter stating:

“The need to keep their debts manageable will force many graduates to enter the higher paying procedural specialties; shortages in other specialties, especially those which are community oriented, also threaten patient care.”

“All doctors who graduate with huge debts will have to recoup the cost of repayment; this must increase the level of patient fees.”


Literature published around the world clearly shows the deleterious effect of lumbering medical students with the cost of their education. For instance, American research has shown that:

“[Medical] students who had very large debts were less likely to choose primary care specialties”.

From: Bland, C.J., Meurer, L.N. and Maldonado, G., Determinants of primary care specialty choice: a non-statistical meta-analysis of the literature. In: Academic Medicine, volume 70(7), pages 620 – 641. July 1995.

When medical student debt increased in the U.S. in the early 1990s the proportion of medical students entering general practice dropped from 48% to 36%

From: Rosenthal MP, Marquette PA, Diamond JJ. Trends along the debt-income axis: implications for medical students’ selection of family medicine practice careers. Academic Medicine. 71(6):675-7, 1996, Jun.

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