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Workforce Shortages Threaten Surgery

Workforce Shortages Threaten Surgery

Please ignore earlier press release dated 6.9.04 “Urgent Action needed…..”


The greatest long-term threat to surgery in New Zealand is the lack of surgeons and this will only get worse unless the Government funds more surgical training.

The Chairman of the New Zealand National Board of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Murray Pfeifer says workforce issues are becoming a “major issue” for the college.

Mr Pfeifer was speaking at the College’s Annual Scientific Congress in Perth where more than 2000 Australasian surgeons are meeting to discuss how they can improve surgical care, training and standards.

“While a third of our current medical workforce are over-seas trained it is patently obvious that we are engaged in expedient measures to resolve our workforce issues – this is extremely short-sighted and shows a lack of commitment to providing services in the future,” he says.

Mr Pfeifer says there is a bottle neck of trainee surgeons who have already spent two or three years training. They are now waiting in the queue for a place in the advanced surgical training programme.

“Looking to the immediate future New Zealand needs at least another 40 advanced training posts to meet the demand for surgical services. Our population is aging and there is an increasing demand for age-related surgery,” he says

Mr Pfeifer says it is unacceptable that the Clinical Training Agency currently only funds about 75 per cent of existing surgical trainees leaving the District Health Boards to fund about 70 remaining surgical trainees from their operational budgets.

“We believe the Government should show its commitment to providing quality surgical services by funding these trainees – freeing up valuable money for the District Health Boards,” he says.

“The College is committed to training a sustainable skilled surgical workforce for New Zealand and we call on the Government to fund the necessary training posts to enable us to achieve this.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress (May 9 -13) is hosting some 1,500 surgeons and has invited specialist from Australasia and abroad to discuss the cutting edge of surgical science and to investigate the trends within the profession.

An ASC Media Officer operates on site at the Perth Convention Centre in the Executive Boardroom, Level one.


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