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Senior Doctors To Meet Over Workforce Shortage Crisis

Senior Doctors to hold Special Meeting to Consider Workforce Crisis (First 'Specialist Shortage Alert' published)

"Senior doctors to hold special meeting over workforce crisis"

The union representing senior doctors and dentists employed by DHBs around the country are holding a special meeting on 31 August which will consider the workforce crisis in New Zealand they say is still not being addressed.

The union, ASMS, and the DHBs last year agreed on a blueprint to address the issue, but it says it fears momentum is being lost. [The blueprint, Securing a Sustainable Senior Medical and Dental Workforce in New Zealand: the Business Case, can be downloaded from]

ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell says branch representatives meeting next Wednesday will be considering what they should do next.

"The Minister of Health acknowledged the crisis last year saying it was his number one priority, but we are not seeing much action," says Ian Powell.

ASMS is producing a series of papers to alert its membership and the public about the crisis. Titled Specialist Shortage Alert, the first one has just been published (attached). Ian Powell says the figures make gloomy reading.

"Figures released in 2009 shows that we were bottom of the OECD table in terms of the number of specialists per head of population and that is a worry"

The data showed that New Zealand had 0.8 specialists for 1000 people, when the OECD average was 1.8.

"Australia which also has serious workforce shortages does better than us with 1.4 specialists for 1000 people," says Ian Powell.

"According to international benchmarks, in 2008 New Zealand needed specialist workforce increases of more than 20% to reach the recommended ratios."

"The ASMS and the DHBs agreed that for New Zealand to match Australia's projected ratio by 2021 and secure a sustainable workforce, we would need to increase our specialist numbers by 232 a year over the next ten years."

But ASMS says Medical Council registration data for the three years to March 2011 show the average annual growth of specialist was 178 - a shortfall of 50 specialists a year.

"We also have the second-highest emigration rate of doctors in the OECD. We have become a medical training ground for other countries," concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell


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