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Taskforce to pursue medical training reforms

7 September 2006

Taskforce to pursue medical training reforms

The new Workforce Taskforce will have six months to report to the government on significant reforms of New Zealand's medical education and clinical training system, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

In a speech in Auckland today, Pete Hodgson announced the membership of the taskforce and said that their first task would be to advise the government on how to streamline the training of doctors.

"New Zealand's health workforce has grown rapidly under the Labour-led government," Pete Hodgson said. "There are now over 5,000 more doctors and nurses working in our public hospitals than there were in 1999 – that's significant progress, but it's not good enough.

"With an ageing population and a growing chronic disease burden, our health workforce is going to be under increasing pressure to deliver more and better services for New Zealanders. The health sector is emerging from a period of advice and discussion and we now have the momentum we need to act and pursue significant reforms for our workforce.

"The Workforce Taskforce will design final plans to streamline workforce planning and address issues around training, recruitment and retention of the full range of health professionals. Their first task will be to provide me with a specific plan to streamline medical education and clinical training within six months.

"There is still not total agreement in the sector about how to get this done, so the six month report back is a significant challenge. I don't, however, feel we can afford to wait any longer."

The options the taskforce will consider include:
 Shortening the number of undergraduate years,
 Starting specialist training during undergraduate years,
 Moving to a "method of payment for output" for medical education,
 Collapsing the first two years of postgrad training into one,
 Giving more recognition to prior learning in specialist training years,
 Appraising the apprentice training model

"We've been able to recruit a team of talented, highly regarded people to guide the taskforce. I'm very pleased that Dr Robert Logan, the immediate past chair of the National Health Committee has agreed to chair the Taskforce."

Attached: Biographies of the Taskforce members

Dr Robert Logan is the Chief Medical Advisor to the Hutt Valley District Health Board and the immediate past chair of the National Health Committee, a role he held for seven years. He has nearly 30 year of experience as a practicing physician and cardiologist.

Len Cook is New Zealand's former Government Statistician and last year completed five years of service as the National Statistician of the United Kingdom. He is a visiting professor at the University College of London and currently works as a statistician for a number of organisations including the Retirement Commission, the OECD and the United Nations.

Dr Frances Hughes is Professor and Director of the Centre for Mental Health Research, Policy and Service Development at the University of Auckland. She was a previous member of the Health Workforce Advisory Committee (HWAC) and has 30 years of experience in the health workforce including many years as a Registered Psychiatrist Nurse and Registered Comprehensive Nurse.

Professor Iain Martin is Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at Auckland University. Originally from Britain, Professor Martin was a member of the Doctors in Training Roundtable and is a previous member of the Australian Medical Council Medical School Accreditation Committee.

Suzanne Win is the Chair of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and was previously a member of HWAC. Trained as a nurse, Ms Win has long experience in health policy and was the Ministry of Health's former Deputy Director General for Disability Support Services.

Dr Margaret Horsburgh is Associate Professor of Nursing at Auckland University. Dr Horsburgh is a former member of the National Health Committee and the Auckland District Health Board and first qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1964.

Dr Jim Vause is the former President of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and Principal and Owner of Redwoodtown Doctors in Blenheim. He was a member of HWAC and is currently a member of the Epiqual Advisory Committee and the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Advisory Committee.

Dr David Stewart is a practicing endocrinologist and a member of the Otago District Health Board. Dr Stewart has served previously as the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) at the University of Otago and is an honorary life member of the New Zealand Society of Endocrinology.


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