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Successful Health Workforce Summit meeting

Media release

Successful Health Workforce Summit meeting

"The summit meeting of 150 delegates from across the health sector held in Wellington over the last two days has demonstrated significant progress towards setting strategic directions for health workforce development in New Zealand." said Professor Andrew Hornblow, Chair of the Health Workforce Advisory Committee. Delegates included senior health officials, representatives of provider organisations, health practitioners and consumers.

"The strong contribution made by the health sector to this summit meeting demonstrates the goodwill and positive outlook the sector has to solving health workforce issues in a strategic and sustainable way" said Professor Hornblow.

The summit demonstrated a strong commitment to working together to ensure that we have a workforce with the skill sets to deliver improved health outcomes for New Zealanders. "This presents a challenge to the education sector to be responsive to health needs and to health professionals to respond to the rapidly changing health environment." said Professor Hornblow.

In Her Excellency's opening address The Governor-General of New Zealand, The Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright emphasised the importance of nurturing and developing the health workforce.

The Minister of Health congratulated the Health Workforce Advisory Committee for undertaking this initiative saying "It is clear that the health sector has been waiting a long time for an event such as this. For a decade, health workforce development was badly neglected. Someone had to take responsibility for developing a strategic approach to creating a unique New Zealand health workforce."

The Minister also said that "While individual organisations representing health professionals might be concerned with protecting their own patch, New Zealand stands to benefit from open and innovative approaches to solving general workforce issues that affect the delivery of health care in this country. Forums such as this summit meeting with all stakeholders present go a long way to achieving this."

The overall comments on proposals in the Framing Future Directions discussion document, released on October 2002, were extremely positive. Over 100 submissions were received. Stakeholders welcomed the publication, and considered it a sound platform on which to base further discussion on the development of a long-term health workforce strategy. This sentiment was reaffirmed by the discussions at the summit meeting.

The summit meeting hightlighted a consensus for addressing and building the Maori health workforce to ensure improved health gains for Maori. Professor Colin Mantell challenged the sector to adapt rapidly to enable more Maori health practitioners to be educated and employed in health services.

Building the Pacific workforce and the workforce for people experiencing disability were also major areas addressed at this conference with many delegates from these communities present.

The summit speeches and plenary session are available on the Health Workforce Advisory Committee Website:

Contact for Comment: Professor Andrew Hornblow, Chair, Health Workforce Advisory Committee 03 348 6536


Health Workforce Advisory Committee

The Health Workforce Advisory Committee (HWAC) is established under Section 12 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. The role of the Committee is to advise the Minister of Health on health workforce issues that the Minister specifies by notice to the Committee.

The committee is established by and accountable to the Minister of Health.

Key tasks

The committee's key tasks, in line with the requirements of Section 12 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, are to:

1) provide an independent assessment for the Minister of Health of current workforce capacity and forseeable workforce needs to meet the objectives of the New Zealand Health and Disability Strategies

2) advise the Minister on national goals for the health workforce and recommend strategies to develop an appropriate workforce capacity.

3) facilitate co-operation between organisations involved in health workforce education and training to ensure a strategic approach to health workforce supply, demand and development.

4) report progress on the effectiveness of recommended strategies and identify required changes.

6 Priority areas identified in Framing Future Directions Discussion Document

1. Addressing the workforce implications of the primary health care strategy
2. Promoting a healthy workplace environment
3. Educating a responsive health workforce
4. Building Mäori health workforce capacity
5. Building Pacific health workforce capacity
6. Building the health and support workforce capacity for people who experience disability

Peter Abernethy Manager Communications Government & Sector Relations Corporate & Information Directorate Ministry of Health DDI: 04 496 2008

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