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The New Zealand Medical Workforce in 2011

Media statement
For immediate release 22 August 2012

The New Zealand Medical Workforce in 2011 - workforce survey results

The Medical Council of New Zealand today released The New Zealand Medical Workforce in 2011 survey results.

Dr John Adams, the Council’s chairperson said the survey shows that the number of active doctors increased by 3.2 percent, from 13,883 in 2010 to 14,333 in 2011. This change compares with increases of 3.5 percent in 2009 and 2010

“The age of these doctors reflects New Zealand demographics. In earlier years (2000–2003), the largest group of doctors (almost 20 percent) was in the 40–44 year age group. By 2009, the largest group of doctors is aged 45–49 and in 2011, the largest group is doctors aged 50–54.

“It’s apparent that this ‘bulge’ will continue to travel through the health workforce in the coming years.”

The younger age groups of doctors have more females than males: 45 percent of females in the workforce are under the age of 40, compared to 27 percent of males. Only five percent of females in the workforce are over the age of 60, compared to 18 percent of males.

Dr Adams says for all active doctors, the average number of hours worked was 43.7 per week with the data showing that doctors aged in their twenties worked the most hours (52.8 hours) each week on average.

The proportion of doctors who identified themselves as Māori dropped to 2.8 percent, and the proportion of Pacific doctors increased from 1.3 percent to 1.6 percent.

“Unfortunately both Māori and Pacific doctors continue to be noticeably under-represented compared to their proportion of the population,” said Dr Adams.

Dr Adams says looking at gender differences in the workplace makes for interesting reading, “The overall proportion of females in the workforce remained at 40 percent, with females continuing to outnumber men in house officer roles, making up 57 percent of this category.”

The number of females increased in accident and medical practice from 34 percent to 44 percent. The proportion of females decreased in obstetrics & gynaecology (from 54 percent to 41 percent) and paediatrics (from 53 percent to 45 percent).

Females were significantly under-represented in the surgical scopes. Only 8 percent of doctors working in surgical scopes were female, down from 13 percent in 2010.

International medical graduates (IMGs) or doctors who obtained their primary medical qualification in a country other than New Zealand now make up 41.5 percent of our workforce.

“IMGs are making a fantastic contribution to New Zealanders primary healthcare with 49 percent of GPs being an IMG,” said Dr Adams.

Dr Adams says there’s also good news for the retention of New Zealand medical graduates, “On average, 84 percent of graduates are retained in the New Zealand medical workforce 2 years after graduation. By the third year, 78 percent are retained, rising to 79 percent, 5 years after graduation. Retention rates level out to between 61 and 67 percent in years 8 to 14 after graduation.

“In contrast to New Zealand trained graduates, just fewer than 53 percent of IMGs are retained in the year immediately after initial registration. However, doctors who held their primary qualification for between 11 and 20 years at the time they came to New Zealand have the highest retention rate. More than 40 percent of doctors in these groups are retained 9 years after registration.”

Doctors from North Africa and the Middle East have the highest retention rate, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. While doctors from the Americas have the lowest retention rate, with just over 30 percent retained 1 year after registration. Seven years after registration, less than 10 percent remain.

Doctors from the United Kingdom also have lower-than-average retention rates. Just over 30 percent of these doctors are retained 2 years after registration, dropping to just over 20 percent after 8 years.
For the 2011 workforce survey, survey forms were sent out to 13,552 doctors with New Zealand addresses. Ninety-three percent (12,654) replied.

Some doctors in active employment may not have responded to the survey. No allowance has been made in figures for the response rate. The results in the report include only the 11,688 active doctors – that is, those working 4 or more hours a week.

A copy of the full report is available online.

- ENDS -

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