Professor Andrew Hornblow, Chair, Health Workforce Advisory Committee
Health Workforce Advisory Committee tackles medical workforce issues
The Health Workforce Advisory Committee (HWAC) is establishing a specialist reference group to help it tackle the
complex issues relating to the medical workforce in New Zealand.
The 10-member group brings together students in training as well as specialists in rural general practice, secondary and
tertiary health services and represents many years’ expertise across the health sector and across the spectrum of the
The formation of the group was one of HWAC’s recommendations in its August 2003 report to the Minister of Health on
future directions for the New Zealand health workforce.
‘The workforce is the health sector’s greatest resource,’ says Annette King, Minister of Health. ‘I am delighted at the
calibre and composition of this group of people who have stepped up to work with HWAC on the very important and pressing
issues confronting the medical workforce.’
Professor Andrew Hornblow, Chairman of HWAC, also welcomes the formation of the group. ‘HWAC has made significant
progress over the last year or more in working with the health sector to set strategic directions and a framework for
the development of New Zealand’s health workforce.
‘We are now in a position to tackle issues to do with the recruitment and retention of skilled health practitioners in
the medical workforce in a way that would not have been possible earlier, and the reference group will have a crucial
role in this,’ says Professor Hornblow.
Commenting further, Professor Hornblow noted, ‘HWAC’s 2002 stocktake of the health workforce showed that while the
number of medical practitioners increased 36 percent between 1990 and 2000, the demographics of the medical workforce
are changing significantly. At the same time, the demand for medical services and the capacity for medical interventions
are increasing relentlessly, and global trends are impacting more and more on health care in New Zealand. The medical
reference group will address these issues.
The reference group, which includes three members of HWAC, is:
Dr George Salmond Chair (HWAC) Professor John Campbell
Dr Peter Leslie Mrs Anne Kolbe
Dr Don Simmers Dr Dwayne Crombie
Dr David Galler Cindy Towns
Dr Ralph Wiles (HWAC) Jane Lawless (HWAC)
The reference group is to begin by:
• Assessing medical workforce information requirements for supply and demand analysis. This analysis will take into
o demand for doctors, including how they deliver services and medical workforce capacity requirements
o current supply from the education sector and immigration, also recruitment and retention issues
o planning processes, to improve information systems and use of short- and long-term measures to ensure capacity
o professional issues including professional development, flexible employment opportunities, career pathways etc.
• Reviewing the structure of medical service delivery. This project will explore doctors’ work in terms of specialist,
generalist and resident medical officer roles in an environment of patient-centred service delivery. Primary care,
cancer control and diabetes may be used as examples to explore this issue.
Appointments to the Medical Reference Group are for a year initially, to allow for a review of the group’s tasks and
membership. The group is advisory to HWAC and will work within HWAC’s Terms of Reference.
HWAC’s medical reference group will add strength to the increasing emphasis being given to health workforce development
by District Health Boards (DHB’s). Chair of DHBs’ collaborative workforce group, and appointee to the HWAC medical
reference group, Dr Dwayne Crombie says, ‘District Health Boards recognise that the workforce is the sector’s greatest
asset and have focused on building our collective capacity to respond to workforce issues. HWAC’s medical reference
group will be able to provide advice on some of the more complex issues facing the medical workforce in a changing
service delivery environment’.