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Increase in numbers of overseas-trained doctors


The Medical Council has published its Annual Report 2002. The latest figures from the report show that the number of overseas-trained doctors working in New Zealand rose from 890 in 2001 to 1,089 in 2002. The number of temporary doctors – most of whom only stay between six and nine months – also rose from 700 to 844.

United Kingdom graduates comprise 25% of the active medical workforce in New Zealand, and over half the temporary workforce. In February 2002, the Council removed the examination requirement for UK graduates seeking permanent residence to become generally registered.

The Council based the decision on three main factors: sound accreditation systems for medical schools in the United Kingdom; documented superior performance of the graduates over a period of more than five years; and UK graduates comprising the largest group of temporary registrants. There is potential for other countries’ degrees to be recognised and this policy is a step in that direction.

Dr Tony Baird, President of the Medical Council, said: “Like our overseas counterparts, the Medical Council of New Zealand is meeting challenges in the health service by focusing on professionalism in medicine and stating explicitly the expected standards of good practice. We face an increasing reliance on a temporary, transient workforce and problems retaining our own medical graduates. We are working hard to support doctors to stay in New Zealand, both our own and overseas graduates.”

Additional points of interest highlighted in the report are:

Under the Ministry of Health’s credentialing proposal released during the year, the Medical Council will be responsible for verifying the background, as well as the qualification, of practitioners and holding their information in a central database. A pilot study of verification at source is continuing. Competence reviews and programmes aim to help doctors remain competent. 73 referrals were received in 2002 (compared with 82 the previous year). 37 doctors were formally reviewed and 6 were directed to do an educational programme to correct any deficiencies. In 2001, the Council initiated a major independent review of its policies on sexual boundaries in the patient/doctor relationship. The independent evaluation report, written by lawyer Clare Bear, was presented in September 2001 with over 100 recommendations. It will take two years or possibly longer to complete the implementation of all recommendations. Quarterly updates on the Council’s website inform stakeholders of progress.

New guidelines circulated to the profession were ‘Maintenance and retention of patient records’, ‘Medical certification’ and a statement ‘Self and family care’. These are all published on the Council website http:// http://www.mcnz.org.nz Sixteen other statements and guidelines were under review during the year. The Council has begun to consider how ‘cultural competence’ can be more explicitly incorporated into the day-to-day practice of medical professionals. Systems for incorporating cultural competence into medical education and training are due to be developed in the following year.

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