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DHBs won’t bow to ridiculous accusations

1 September 2011

DHBs won’t bow to ridiculous accusations

Personal comments about District Health Boards leadership made by Associated Medical Specialists Association chief executive Ian Powell are disappointing, Board spokesman Graham Dyer says.

“We won’t stoop to the gutter tactics adopted by Mr Powell,” says Mr Dyer, who chairs the DHBs’ Employment Relations Strategy Group.

“Our responsibility is to develop a sustainable health service which includes a wide range of professional groups that includes nurses, resident doctors, general practitioners, physiotherapists, medical technologists and many others as well as senior doctors.

“Mr Powell is an industrial representative of just one of those groups. They are an important group, but numerically are less than 5% of the health workforce. Mr Powell has a bias towards getting a deal for his members.

“We have no desire to jeopardise the bargaining process with Mr Powell. He accuses us of this, but we must ask Mr Powell what he believes we would achieve through this. What we want is a stable secure health workforce so we can deliver the quality services that New Zealanders need.

“We will not bow to the ridiculous pressure and accusations made by Mr Powell. We cannot agree to settlements which are unaffordable. What we need is high quality engagement with the workforce to continuously improve and continue to deliver a high quality service.

“New Zealand is a small economy experiencing the impact of the global recession and fallout from the Christchurch earthquakes. We are competing on an aggressive international playing field and have to be innovative in how we deliver health care.

“Mr Powell disputes everything we said in a media release on Tuesday. However, we have the data to back up what we say.”

• The latest 2011 OECD data shows the number of physicians per 100,000 people in New Zealand is equivalent to the ratios in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom – hardly putting us at the bottom of the OECD league, as Mr Powell claims.

• The ASMS continues to seek a progressive investment of $360 million in terms and conditions over three years. It has been clear from the salary scenarios tabled by ASMS that they wish to see all of this going into increased salaries. The ongoing cost of $200 million per annum reflects a 20% increase in the current annual wage and salary bill for the country’s approximately 3,300 fulltime equivalent DHB-employed senior doctors.

• Evidence to back the fact that the average fulltime equivalent specialist salary is $249,000 comes from the November 2010 DHB payroll data and is confirmed in an SMO remuneration report developed by the National Health Board. This reflects the fact that SMOs receive a range of additional allowances and benefits over and above their base.

As ASMS's industrial representative, Mr Powell appears to want to make engagement in clinical leadership, quality initiatives and service improvements contingent on the salary movements.

The senior medical workforce in New Zealand is of an extremely high quality and is extremely capable. They are a workforce that is essential to the future of healthcare delivery in New Zealand. We believe we can work with them effectively and find a way through the current situation. We look forward to getting round the table rather than litigating this through the media.


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