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More investment in hospital specialist workforce needed

6 August 2019

More investment in hospital specialist workforce needed to tackle ballooning deficits

“The size of hospital deficits is yet another sign the Government needs to invest more in the health workforce, including hospital specialists,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

“It might seem counter-intuitive to suggest spending more money when DHBs are already in the red but spending it in the right ways – for example, by providing more specialists to diagnose and treat patients, and actively supporting greater clinical leadership – would be a smart move.”

He was commenting on reports that DHB deficits are set to balloon to more than half a billion dollars for the year (https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/395874/health-boards-deficits-forecast-to-hit-508m).

“Hospital specialists are experts in solving complex issues by virtue of their many years of medical training and day-to-day experience,” says Mr Powell.

“The Government should be turning to these natural problem-solvers for ideas on how to reduce waste and duplication in the health system, and how to deliver better health care to communities.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that what makes good clinical sense also makes good financial sense. Hospitals specialists are the experts on health service design, configuration and delivery.”

Mr Powell referred to an agreement reached between ASMS and the DHBs in 2010 to invest more in the hospital specialist workforce in order to create the capacity for improvement both in care for patients and financial efficiency (https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/The-Business-Case-Nov-2010.pdf).

“Unfortunately that initiative was stomped on at the time by both the former government and key DHB bosses.”

Mr Powell says the answer is right in front of the Government if it was only to open its eyes.


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