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Dentistry Graduates “Bitterly Disappointed”

12 JULY 2002

The New Zealand Dental Association urges the Government to act swiftly and definitively to address the recommendation of Justice Goddard in favour of dental students and the University of Otago over the under--funding of dental education, and to end this stressful and damaging issue for former dental students.

Dr Kim Gear, one of the many former dental students affected by the previous Government’s under-funding of dentistry education, says dentistry graduates are “bitterly disappointed and extremely frustrated” at the Crown’s decision to appeal the judgment made by Justice Goddard in April.

“Justice Goddard stated that it would be “unthinkable” for the Crown not to give effect to the judgment. The “unthinkable” has happened and the Crown wishes to appeal. This adds stress and worry for former students who are anxiously awaiting the outcome of this case”, said Dr Gear.

Mr Maharey states that the Government wishes “to preserve its position”. The New Zealand Dental Association argues that this is an issue which has spanned eight years, and graduates still bear significant loans.

The previous Government’s funding decision contributed to an increasing exodus of dentists overseas in search of higher salaries to pay off their loans. A report from the Dental Council of New Zealand released this month states:

Retention of New Zealand dental graduates in the workforce has been steadily decreasing in the past 12 years, especially in the first three years after graduation. By 2001, the percentage of New Zealand graduates remaining in the workforce four years after graduation had dropped to 34 percent (compared with 75 percent in 1990).

This exodus continues to have an impact on the quality and provision of affordable dental care to New Zealanders.

The New Zealand Dental Association supports the University of Otago’s plea to the Government to address this issue as quickly as possible.


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