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Rural Pharmacies Struggling for Staff

Barbara Stewart MP
Spokesperson for Health
23 November 2012

Rural Pharmacies Struggling for Staff

New Zealand First says pharmacists in rural areas are being put through unnecessary stress and anxiety because of inadequate Government policies.

Health spokesperson Barbara Stewart says there is an urgent staffing crisis in rural areas where overworked pharmacists struggle to fill vacancies with recent graduates.

“We urge the Government to add pharmacists to its Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) which currently helps to bring recent medical graduates to hard-to-staff areas.”

In a written question from New Zealand First to the Health Minister it was found that he had ‘no intention to include pharmacy graduates in the VBS’.

Mrs Stewart says this appalling decision means the best quality of pharmacy care will be missing from rural areas which are historically difficult to staff.

“We understand that the existing multi-disciplinary rural immersion health training placement scheme places health students in a rural environment in the Whakatane and Eastern Bay of Plenty areas.

“As a first step, the Government should include pharmacy students in an expanded immersion scheme that would cover all of rural New Zealand.”

Mrs Stewart says New Zealand First would consider adopting a range of measures to ensure the adequate recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas.

“This could include student loan abatements, fees reductions, and scholarships so that the rural community is well served while pharmacy graduates get vital work experience.

“It would provide a winning situation for all involved.”


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