For immediate use
7 January 2019
Dear David – A new year challenge
Health Minister David Clark could make a good start to 2019 by admitting there is a crisis in the specialist workforce,
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) Executive Director Ian Powell says.
Mr Powell says specialists working in public hospitals are disappointed Dr Clark has yet to commit to developing a safe
staffing accord to address this precarious situation.
Mr Powell’s article, entitled ‘Dear David, There’s a Hole in the SMO Bucket’ has been published in the current edition
of The Specialist and can be read here: https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Theres-a-hole-in-the-SMO-bucket.pdf
“This is a significant oversight as hospital specialists are a stressed and stretched workforce, and they have been
shouldering the burden of an under-resourced public health system for years, to the detriment of their own health,” Mr
ASMS research shows high levels of burnout (50%) among DHB-employed senior medical and dental staff. It shows 88% having
to work through general illness, and 75% having to work through infectious disease.
ASMS surveys in five DHBs to date (Counties Manukau, Hawke’s Bay, MidCentral, Nelson Marlborough and Canterbury) reveal
existing shortages of about 20%, suggesting a national shortage of up to 1000 specialists.
“David Clark and his government colleagues must ask themselves how on earth senior doctors can be expected to maintain
their personal health and well-being and ensure safe and quality patient care in such a precarious position,” Mr Powell
Mr Powell says the safe staffing accord requested by ASMS would ensure DHBs employ an adequate number of specialists,
thereby providing protection for both patients and doctors. Why is the Government struggling to understand this?