(2012), "New Zealand - Public hospital specialists over-stretched by increasing workforce imbalance", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 25 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2012.06225baa.005Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
New Zealand - Public hospital specialists over-stretched by increasing workforce imbalance
Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 25, Issue 2
Keywords: Public hospital specialist recruitment, Workforce management, Recruitment and retention in healthcare
“Already stretched public hospital specialists are facing even more strain from excessive demands being put on them due to specialist shortages in what is a systemic crisis,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).
That’s the conclusion of ASMS, the union representing senior doctors and dentists which is concerned at the lack of progress on a blueprint agreed with the District Health Boards (DHBs) last year to address an ongoing shortage of medical specialists. The ASMS has produced a publication Specialist Workforce Alert which summarises this feature of the crisis and also comments on misleading political claims of increased doctor numbers.
ASMS Director Ian Powell says public hospital specialists are in a really tough position.
“They are expected to become more involved and dedicate more time to training and supervising of an increasing number of junior (resident) doctors as well as take on extra work to free up the junior doctors to receive training.”
“There is also an expectation that the specialists will spend time in leading the development of innovative models of care so that more services can be provided with fewer resources.”
Ian Powell says there are neither enough hours in the day nor senior doctors to make this work.
“It is all very well for the government to talk about extra doctors in system as if it will solve all the problems. But we have to remember that most of the increased number of doctors employed by DHBs in the last two years has been junior doctors placing even more pressure on senior doctors for training.”
“Intakes into the medical schools have been increasing since 2004 and that means more junior doctors. Many specialists who were already having difficulty finding adequate time for training and supervisory duties are coming under increasing pressure to fulfil those duties.”
Ian Powell says the Medical Training Board has noted that DHBs will require further significant investment in training as the numbers of doctors to train increases and envisaged an increase in the numbers of and support for the public hospital specialists.
“That has not happened and we have a system under severe strain further worsened by too many junior doctors leaving New Zealand to take up specialist positions overseas,” he says.
“Unless sufficient numbers of specialists can be retained and recruited to do this training, the result will be increasing service gaps and patients waiting longer for specialist treatment.”
Ian Powell says the current situation runs the risk of both junior and senior doctors’ workforces becoming more dissatisfied and frustrated which will worsen the current recruitment and retention rates for senior staff.
“We are looking to the government and health bosses for an acknowledgement of the increasing stress public hospital specialists are subjected to through factors beyond their control and a commitment to a solution” concluded Mr Powell.
For more information: www.asms.org.nz