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NZIMLS 'Workforce Crisis' Document Delivery To Minister Of Health Plus Associates

The New Zealand institute of Medical Laboratory Science (NZIMLS) has advised the Minister of Health that our intention is to hand deliver to parliament steps, Beehive on Thursday 12th May at 1.15pm a full and comprehensive review of the very real crisis facing the medical laboratory profession and workforce. This is in response to the fact that the medical laboratory workforce has shrunk in the past 12 months by 5% in the single busiest and most disruptive period of our medical laboratory history. This is on top of an assessment by the APEX union that medical laboratory staffing was already 10% down on optimum cover when the pandemic hit in 2020. The issue facing our workforce is not new and has been entirely predictable and NZIMLS has been warning about this impending crisis for over 5 years but to deaf ears and constant dismissive business policies from the MOH, DHB and private laboratory providers. Unless action happens right now the slippery slide to significant diagnostic testing delays will be a constant and real time problem for the entire health system.

Neither the office of the Minister of Health or Minister Little have responded to the formal request made as of 5pm on Wednesday 11th May 2022. The Full document has been electronically sent to all health ministers at 3pm on 11th May 2022. The National Party, Green party, ACT NZ, and Te Pāti Māori have all been advised that the NZIMLS have invited the Minister of Health and/or associates (or representative) to accept a hard copy in person on the steps of parliament. The NZIMLS does have a formal meeting with the Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall in parliament at 11am on this day about an unrelated matter.

The contents of the crisis document will not be publicly released unless no action is instigated by this drastic move by the professional body as it does contain specific examples and recommendations that may put some of our dedicated workforce in a difficult situation. The NZIMLS (represented by Terry Taylor) are however available to speak in general terms to the document and in particular the Executive Summary released below.

Executive summary of medical laboratory profession crisis document

  • Formal Ministerial support for mandating the Medical Laboratory Workforce Training Group with the authority to implement policy directives for addressing staffing shortfalls.
  • Workplace conditions, career progression and qualification recognition require urgent attention to address poor staff retention. External professional development funding needs ring-fencing within current laboratory service contracts.
  • Māori and Pacifika recruitment require prioritising and incentivising to address longstanding cultural inequities.
  • Short term immigration cover for hard to fill positions should be supported, under strict independent oversight. The caveat for NZIMLS support for this, is that a significant funding input into training New Zealanders needs to be mandated and resourced immediately.
  • Review the strict division between research facilities and diagnostic services to allow collaboration and potential sharing of staffing and resources.
  • Diagnostic laboratory providers must be open and transparent about allocated government funding for training, education and future proofing.
  • Changing provider workplace culture from the ‘keep them lean and mean’ workforce staffing approach to prioritising staff wellbeing and addressing physical and mental fatigue.

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