Currently, there are a number of issues facing the New Zealand health and disability workforce

These issues include:
a general shortage of healthcare professionals (including shortages in certain areas of New Zealand and specialties)
retaining New Zealand doctors
the difficulties of balancing the need for service-provision with the training of the medical workforce
difficulties concerning workplace conditions

Subsequently,  a number of boards, commissions and committees (including the Medical Training Board, the RMO Commission, and the SMO Commission) were set up to explore how New Zealand could best tackle these workforce issues, particularly in light of the ever-increasing levels of demand facing the New Zealand health system. The reports from these various groups broadly agreed on the need for greater workforce planning and coordination in order to help address these issues and the need for a separate national entity to do so.

Subsequently, Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) was set up in 2009 to lead and co-ordinate the planning and development of New Zealand’s health and disability workforce. It is a business unit of the National Health Board and is overseen by an independent board which is chaired by Professor Des Gorman with board members from business and across the health sector. The aim of HWNZ is to ensure that New Zealand has a fit-for-purpose, high quality and motivated health workforce, that keeps pace with clinical innovations and the growing needs and expectations of service users and the public.


So how does all this affect me as a medical student?

First and foremost, we as medical students (and future doctors) are key stakeholders in New Zealand’s future health workforce.

As the lead body in the planning and development of the health workforce, HWNZ will play a considerable role in the coordination and development of the training pathways from medical student through to senior doctor in order to best fit the needs of the New Zealand public.

As a result, any initiatives developed by HWNZ to address workforce issues here in New Zealand are likely to affect your training – as a medical student, and for the rest of your career as a doctor.

Current initiatives that may be of interest to you include:

The GP Training Review

Which is reviewing the way GPs are currently trained with the aim of introducing a new curriculum in January 2012 that will combine the essential community-based generalist role with enhanced skills and a stronger interface with the hospital

The Advanced Training Scheme

A HWNZ scholarship which is available to assist advanced medical trainees to train or study overseas in a shortage specialty area.

Voluntary Bonding Scheme

An incentive payment scheme that has been introduced by the Government to reward medical, midwifery, nursing, teaching and veterinarian graduates who agree to work in hard-to-staff areas. Graduates who are part of the scheme are eligible for incentive payments intended to help repay their student loans for up to five years.

In addition, HWNZ provides career guidance for medical students and RMOs here.

How can I have my say about workforce issues?

HWNZ recognises that as doctors-to-be, it is important for medical students to play a role in the development of New Zealand’s future healthcare workforce. You can contact HWNZ by emailing info@healthworkforce.govt.nz.

You can also get in contact with NZMSA via email, Facebook, or through your local representative – we are here to advocate on your behalf on issues of importance to you.

What if I want to find out more?

To find out more about HWNZ, visit their website: http://www.healthworkforce.govt.nz/ or get in contact with NZMSA via email, Facebook, or through your local rep.

Keep up to date with the latest HWNZ bulletins, the latest which can be downloaded here.