Yawning trans-Tasman salary gap for medical specialists
29 November 2019
New research reveals medical specialists in New Zealand’s public hospitals are, on average, earning as much as 60 percent less than their Australian counterparts.
The research, conducted by BERL for the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, compared the base 40-hour a week salaries of senior hospital doctors on both sides of the Tasman.
“There is no surprise that salaries for medical specialists are higher in Australia than here”, says BERL Research Director Dr Ganesh Nana.
“However, the size of the gap is astonishing. This is starkly illustrated by noting that the top step in the New Zealand salary scale is below that of the lowest entry-level salary for a newly qualified specialist in Australia”.
It means a newly qualified medical specialist in Australia is earning slightly more than the highest-paid New Zealand specialist who’s at the top of their scale. This is clearly illustrated in Figure 1.2 of the report.
ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell says it’s an alarming disparity, particularly as DHBs face an estimated national specialist shortage of 24%.
“Australia is a threat because of our shared specialist training systems and being so geographically close. New Zealand is dependent on overseas-trained doctors. Apart from Israel we have the highest dependence on international recruitment in the OECD.
“We compete with Australia so if you’re an overseas doctor looking to come to either country, you’re much more likely to choose Australia because the pay is so much more attractive and purchasing power is also higher,” Mr Powell says.
Pay scale progression for New Zealand specialists is also slower. It takes 15 years to reach the top step, compared to nine in most Australian states.
Ganesh Nana adds “this bleak comparison of salaries is exacerbated by a range of more favourable non-salary benefits available to medical specialists in Australia.”
“DHBs need to recognise that they are competing in an Australian medical specialist labour market and develop a retention and recruitment strategy that recognises this,” added Mr Powell.
The full report is available here