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Doctor survey reveals graduate retention gains

Doctor survey reveals graduate retention improvement

While the latest annual medical workforce survey shows overall doctor numbers in New Zealand have declined slightly, the trend for recent graduates to leave the country appears to have slowed, the Medical Council’s President, Prof John Campbell, said today.

Releasing the survey which provides statistics for the 2001 year, Prof Campbell said the number of doctors in active employment decreased by just over one percent to 8,491.

“The result over the country is one doctor for 450 people, a decrease from one for 442 people in 1999, but a significant increase from one doctor for 533 people in 1990 and one for 642 in 1980.

“Last year, we noted an apparent increase in the number of new graduates leaving the country. This year’s survey shows higher retention of graduates in the early post-graduate years, but a decrease in retention in subsequent years.”

The survey identifies Western Bay of Plenty, South Taranaki, Tasman, Grey, Southland and Gore as areas where GPs are thinnest on the ground. In these areas the number of GPs drops below 50 per 100,000 people. Nelson city, Thames Coromandel, Kapiti Coast, South Wairarapa, Queenstown Lakes and Clutha districts had the highest proportion of GPs to population. The national average was 89 GPs for every 100,000 people.

Other significant findings include:

The proportion of women in the workforce (32 percent) remains unchanged from 2000. Because of the increasing number of women training as doctors (49 percent of the 2000 graduates in active employment) the average age of women in the medical workforce (39) is significantly younger than men (45 years).

The proportion of doctors who identified as Maori is 2.6 percent, up from 2.3 percent in 2000. Pacific people are 1.1 percent of all doctors, unchanged from 2000.

The proportion of overseas-trained doctors remained at 34 percent, the same as in 1999 and 2000. While the numbers have not increased in the last two years, they are up from 29 percent in 1990. The number of countries in which training was completed has increased from 61 in 1999 to 70 in 2001.

There’s been a four percent drop in the number of GPs and a 10 percent drop in doctors working in primary care as distinct from GPs and a corresponding three percent rise in the number of specialists and 13 percent increase in doctors working in other forms of medicine.

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