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Improving health workforce plans welcomed

Public Health Association welcomes recommendations to improve health workforce planning

The Public Health Association has welcomed new recommendations on New Zealand's health workforce as an important step in improving health, including the health of those most in need.

The Health Workforce Advisory Committee's report Future Directions -Recommendations to the Minister of Health 2003 has come out with a range of recommendations, including Maori workforce development, advising DHBs to promote a population approach in primary care, and stressing the need for active involvement of local providers and communities in PHOs.

PHA spokesperson, Dr Fran McGrath, who attended the Workforce Summit, says the association supports the direction of the report but asks where the funding will come from. Dr McGrath says no additional funding has been identified to extend the public health expertise that the report recommends is available to PHOs.

"Does this mean District Health Boards will have to re-allocate funding from another area of primary care?"

Dr McGrath says it is essential New Zealand has sufficient health workers able to look at health needs across the whole community, especially with the development of Primary Health Organisations which are charged with improving the health of their populations.

The Public Health Association supports the committee's recommendation that a national Maori workforce development advisory group be set up. Other recommendations include DHBs having Maori workforce development plans, Maori 'preferred employer' criteria, on-going education and second-chance education.

"We are pleased to see this is an area where the Minister of Health has indicated there will be additional funding."

Dr McGrath says improving health services requires development of Maori and Pacific health professionals.

The PHA also recommends development of training programmes to ensure all health professionals are culturally effective, as well as clinically capable.

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