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New Health Leaders Must Focus On Improving Staffing And Valuing Workers

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora says being a better employer and addressing critical staffing shortages must be at the top of the agenda for the country’s new health leaders.

It has been announced that Riana Manuel, currently Chief Executive of Hauraki Primary Health Organisation and iwi-based not-for-profit Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki, will lead the new Māori Health Authority, while the new Chief Executive of Health NZ will be current Counties Manukau DHB head Margie Apa.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says, as the new national employer from July next year, Health NZ must prioritise the retention and recruitment of senior hospital doctors and dentists.

“There are basic obligations around pay and safe working conditions, which DHBs and the government are failing to meet at a time when we need to value and hang on to our critical health workers more than ever. Saying thank you is not enough,” she says.

Sarah Dalton says the ‘do more with less’ mantra from DHB managers hasn’t worked and ASMS will look to the head of Health NZ to urgently address desperate staffing shortages which are creating unsustainable working environments, burnout, and increased rationing of patient care.

“We are suffering from long-term lack of investment and failure to future-proof our health workforce. This is an opportunity to take a new, nationalised approach to workforce planning and show some real leadership,” she says.

ASMS congratulates Margie Apa and Riana Manuel on their new roles.

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“We strongly urge them to listen to senior clinicians and involve them in decision-making at both the national and local level,” says Sarah Dalton.

“We all want to work to build a better health system, but it is important to remember that at the heart of every system are the people working inside it. For these health reforms to succeed, our health workers need to be supported, valued and given the recognition they deserve”.

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