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Alarming shortfall of specialists at country’s largest DHB

A survey by the senior doctors’ union estimates the number of specialists at the Auckland District Health Board is 20% down on what’s needed to provide safe and appropriate care to patients.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists has been looking at senior doctor staffing levels across DHBs since 2016 by surveying clinical leaders in hospital departments.

The aim is to assess how many full-time specialist positions are needed to provide quality and timely treatment for patients.

The Auckland DHB survey estimated that just over 100 additional full-time specialists were needed across the 44 departments which took part.

Despite the estimated shortfall the DHB was only officially showing 27 vacancies.

ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell says Auckland is the 12th DHB to be surveyed. The current national average staffing shortfall is estimated at around 24%.

“While the Auckland result is better than the national average, the fact clinical leaders in the country’s largest DHB believe they are 20% short of medical specialists, is cause for alarm.”

“Furthermore, there is a significant gap between the official vacancies advertised (27) and the actual shortfall identified by clinical leaders (101). The rate of this discrepancy is one of the largest to date and even more alarming”.

ASMS has already had one useful discussion on the results of this survey with senior management at Auckland DHB and hopes there will be more.

“It’s a situation which must be urgently turned around and the Health Minister should be instructing DHBs to prioritise this as an issue to be addressed,” Mr Powell says.

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