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Advisory Committee puts forward strategies

Health Workforce Advisory Committee puts forward national strategies

THE Health Workforce Advisory Committee's (HWAC) latest report provides the strategic approach needed to support the New Zealand health workforce, says HWAC chairman Prof Andrew Hornblow.

HWAC's Framing Future Directions Discussion Document, released today, follows HWAC's first stocktake document which identified workforce capacity and key workforce issues such as recruitment and retention. Framing Future Directions addresses the challenge of developing national strategic goals and proposals for health workforce development.

"Our thinking and discussions have focussed more on workforce development as an ongoing organisational and social process than a set of quick-fix solutions," said Prof Hornblow.

"Nurturing and developing the workforce must be seen as a central, ongoing and dynamic process for the health sector, not emergency intervention in times of crisis. Our aim in presenting Framing Future Directions as a discussion document is to involve the sector in the process of agreeing on goals and strategies that will lead to a responsive health workforce that meets the needs of all New Zealanders."

Framing Future Directions identified six priority areas for workforce development:

Addressing the workforce implications of the Primary Health Care Strategy Promoting a healthy hospital workplace environment Educating a responsive health workforce Building the capacity of the Maori health workforce Building the capacity of the Pacific health workforce Ensuring the health and disability workforce is reponsive to the needs of disabled people

Three objectives are already being actioned within the health sector:

* Effective working relationships between the health and education sectors * Development of comprehensive DHB databases of health workforce information * DHBs are giving greater priority to planning their workforce at a local and regional level

Prof Hornblow said HWAC recognised the sector's wide range of expectations as to how it could and should achieve its key tasks.

"We recognise the validity of the many different perspectives on workforce development issues. Rather than look at specific issues, such as recruitment and retention, or specific groups, such as medical practitioners or nurses, the committee has attempted to look at the whole health system, the tasks it must tackle and the directions in which health care is moving," he said.

The next step is to conduct public consultation on Framing Future Directions. A series of meetings will be held in main centres between November and Christmas. Submissions on the document can be received until the end of January 2003 and feedback will be discussed at the summit meeting in March.

HWAC will then make recommendations to the Minister of Health on these goals. "By setting goals the sector will have something to aim for collectively, and will be able to measure its achievements. We look forward to discussing the HWAC's vision and proposals will the public over the next few months," said Prof Hornblow.

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