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Health minister’s commendable call threatened



“health minister’s commendable call threatened by hospital specialist workforce crisis”

“Health Minister Tony Ryall has made a commendable call for more specialists to have greater broader generalist skills. Unfortunately this is threatened by the serious specialist workforce crisis in our public hospitals,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was responding to Mr Ryall’s address to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Queenstown on 18 August.

“His message is timely and was recognised last November in the document Securing a Sustainable Senior Medical and Dental Workforce in New Zealand: the Business Case jointly developed by ourselves and the district health boards. This document is the blueprint for overcoming the specialist workforce crisis in public hospitals and achieving the government’s objectives for the health system.” It can be downloaded from

“There is an imbalance between broader generalist and narrower sub-specialty skills in our public hospital specialist workforce, which leans too much towards the latter, for a small population like New Zealand’s. Although New Zealand’s training tends to be more generalist than other developed countries we can’t retain enough of the doctors that we train. Our crisis requires us to recruit from overseas which worsens the imbalance.”

“Unfortunately New Zealand exports overseas (especially to Australia) too many of our talented specialists. This forces excessive dependence on recruiting from larger countries where the training is often narrower. The crisis will only be overcome by investing in the hospital specialist workforce so that we can retain more of the home grown talent that we train so well.”

“Mr Ryall’s dream is commendable but will remain in his pipe until this upfront investment is made,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell

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