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Populist statements on bonding don’t equal policy

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

27 May2008 Media Statement

Populist statements on bonding don’t equal policy

Minister of Health David Cunliffe said John Key’s comment that National would bond medical students highlights National’s ad-hoc approach to healthcare policy.

“Last night Mr Key was reported as saying the National Party was considering bonding medical students as part of any student loan agreement. Today they are only considering a voluntary scheme. Which is it’?”

“Clearly Mr Key is taking an ad-hoc approach to developing policy if he can’t even maintain a clear stance for 24 hours on bonding of medical students.”

Mr Cunliffe said the Government has put a considerable amount of work into developing a comprehensive workforce development plan, which is ongoing – that plan was giving consideration voluntary bonding as well as a range of other initiatives.

As part of that comprehensive policy training places for doctors had increased twice under this Government to 365 meaning that this year the highest number ever of first year medical students were in place.
In November this year an extra 40 young doctors will graduate from medical school and increased investment means a further 40 new students are starting as medical students this year.
The Government has also increased number of places on GP vocational training (The number of Clinical Training Agency (CTA) funded training places was increased this year from 69 to 104 in the 2008 academic year), and has exposed increasing numbers of 5th year medical students to working in rural locations in areas like Southland and West Coast through an immersion programme.

”We have done all these things as part of an overall health workforce strategy. Ad-hoc statements about one group in the health workforce only show a lack of understanding and demonstrate a complete absence of policy.”


Workforce planning by this government has to date included:
• The Medical Training Board, established November last year, is developing options around increasing medical workforce changes and medical training increased number of places on GP vocational training (The number of Clinical Training Agency (CTA) funded training places was increased this year from 69 to 104 in the 2008 academic year).
• Medical Council data show that the number of active doctors increased from 8,615 to 9,547 in the last year.
• Funding has been increased to help prepare overseas trained doctors for local practice. The number of training places for general practitioners nearly doubled this year.
• New clinical boards have been established in all DHBs to ensure full involvement of clinicians in processes around policies and standards.
• Programmes are in place in all DHBs to help new graduate nurses enter practice and in the future these will be rolled out to primary health, aged and residential care services.

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