INDEPENDENT NEWS

National drives students out

Published: Thu 25 Nov 1999 04:51 PM
A Labour government will take decisive action to stop the 'brain-drain' which is seeing newly qualified medical professionals fleeing the country, Labour health spokesperson Annette King and Labour tertiary education spokesperson Steve Maharey said today.
"There is a national shortage of junior doctors which is severely hampering the provision of services at some hospitals.
"Positions that should have been filled by July are still vacant. 17 junior doctors are urgently needed in the Wellington area, 11 in Christchurch.
"30 percent of the doctors graduating in New Zealand are shifting to Australia. They are going to a more supportive environment and are leaving behind the huge student loan debts that the National Government has burdened them with.
"We must do more to keep our best and brightest in New Zealand. That is why a Labour government will not charge interest on loans while fulltime and other low-income students are studying.
"Labour will undertake a thorough review of the loans system. We will look the economic and social impact of high student debt levels and whether fear of such debt is driving students overseas.
"The current doctor shortage certainly indicates that is the case.
"Labour has both short and long term solutions to assist hospitals recruit staff. In the short term Labour will establish a central fund which public hospitals can access to cover the recruitment costs of obtaining sufficient staff.
"Labour will also establish a Health Workforce Advisory Committee charged with developing a co-ordinated workplace strategy.
"National has created a disastrous scenario. They have burdened medical students with massive debt. As a result many leave the country after graduating. They may never return; while New Zealand hospitals face a desperate staff shortage.
"A Labour government will begin work immediately to repair the damage," Annette King and Steve Maharey said.

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