Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

  • ASMS Directs – Executive Direct

Executive Direct – Issue 2016-2

26 April 2016 Ian Powell

Dear Member

This is the second issue for 2016 of our electronic publication, Executive Direct, to report to members on National Executive news. It is sent to members after each Executive meeting. This Direct reports on the Executive meeting held on 14 April and will also be available on the ASMS website: The next regular Executive meeting is scheduled for 7 July.

  1. National DHB MECA negotiations
  2. Payroll
  3. Record membership year
  4. Life membership
  5. Joint ASMS-MSA Conference on the specialist workforce in 2025
  6. Collective bargaining with non-DHB employers
  7. Other matters

National DHB MECA negotiations

The last Executive meeting on 4 February considered a draft claim for the forthcoming national DHB MECA negotiations due to commence on 5-6 May. With minor revisions the claim was then considered by an all-day meeting of the full ASMS MECA negotiating team on 8 April where further fine tuning was made.

At the 14 April meeting the National Executive approved the final claim with some further tweaking. The claim is reasonably comprehensive including salaries, after-hours call and shifts, CME expenses, increased superannuation subsidy, strengthened secondment, retention leave, minimum safety standards for services, and DHBs responsible for ensuring SMO wellbeing.

Our broad approach to these negotiations in the context of achieving patient centred care is discussed in the March issue of The Specialist.


Members will have seen recent publicity suggesting that there are a number of payroll programmes which have systematically failed to pay employees correctly for their holidays. Deputy Executive Director Angela Belich reported to the National Executive the results of her preliminary general investigation.

She advised that there has been remarkably little specificity in the publicity but the group most likely to be affected are casual employees, those working shifts (specifically where these attract different rates of pay) and those on commission. It is possible that the issues are wider than this and include other instances where pay varies during the year.

The Council of Trade Unions is engaging with the Government’s Labour Inspectorate whose specialists are testing by manually calculating entitlements and then checking against payroll calculations. The CTU has proposed a joint approach with unions and employers approaching the payroll companies.

DHBs are included in those employers affected by this issue which may go back to 2004. It is important to remember that there is a six year statutory limitation on payment of salary arrears. Eight DHBs (this apparently includes the three Auckland DHBs, Northland, Southern and Nelson Marlborough) have their payrolls done by AMS, the company that provided the software that has miscalculated the police and MBIE payrolls. A further eight DHBs use a payroll provider called Northgate Enterprises and the final four each have an individual provider. At least one DHB has brought Deloittes in to look at their payroll and ensure that they are compliant.

It was agreed to pursue this through our existing consultation mechanisms including the National Joint Consultation Committee with the DHBs and the Health Sector Relationship Agreement Steering Group (which comprises DHBs, health unions and Ministry of Health). ASMS will also be raising this directly with each of the DHBs through our local JCCs.

Record membership year

The Association has had another record membership year (31 March 2016) – a net increase of 80 (1.9%) to 4,351 of whom 4,242 are employed by DHBs. In DHBs our density is over 91%. This density is unchanged from the previous year and the increase in DHBs is consistent with the slowdown in the growth of specialists employed by them.

ASMS is the largest professional organisation of subscription paying working doctors in New Zealand outside the Royal College of General Practitioners in New Zealand.

Life membership

With much pleasure the National Executive voted unanimously to recommend to Annual Conference that Dr David Jones become the Association’s seventh life member. David Jones, who is delighted and honoured by this nomination, was on the National Executive for 16 years in total in two different stints. The first was from 1993-2001 (National Secretary 1995-97, Vice President 1997-2001). Then, after a two year break, he served as Vice President again from 2003-2011. For much of the 1990s he was also our Wellington branch representative.

The six life members to date are Drs John Hawke (deceased), James Judson, George Downward, Allen Fraser, Peter Roberts and Brian Craig.

Joint ASMS-MSA conference on the specialist workforce in 2015

The National Executive reviewed the joint conference on 1 April with the Medical Students Association on the specialist workforce that would be needed in 2025. The Executive considered the event to have been a great success including high quality presentations (Medical Council Chair Andrew Connolly, Otago Medical School Dean Peter Crampton and ASMS Policy & Research Director Lyndon Keene), excellent facilitation by Drs Curtis Walker and Marise Stuart, and good discussion among attendees including in breakout groups.

ASMS and MSA will be working together on developing an agreed consensus communique in order to provide a basis for further focussed discussion in the profession and the health sector.

Collective bargaining with Non-DHB employers

The National Executive was updated on negotiations involving our 16 collective agreements outside DHBs, most of which are settled, covering around 220 members. 2016 is a big year for ASMS in this sector with nine of these collective agreements expiring on 30 June. Negotiations are either ongoing or about to commence with Otara Union Health and Ngati Porou Hauora. Settlements have been reached or are close to ratification with ACC and Ashburn House.

The Executive also confirmed recommendations to make more formal and clarify our membership ratification process when negotiating outside DHBs.

Other matters

Other matters discussed included:

  • Director of Communications Cushla Managh reported on some interesting developments in the media relevant to ASMS including predictions from media commentators that the Otago Daily Times was poised to introduce a metered paywall for its online news content and moves by one of New Zealand’s major mainstream companies (NZME whose outlets include NZ Herald) to create further video news programmes.
  • Senior Industrial Officer Henry Stubbs reported on a review by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. A draft bill has been prepared. There are around 23,000 incorporated societies in New Zealand including charities and unions such as ASMS. This may require some consequential amendments to our Constitution but this will be some time away because the bill has yet to be introduced into Parliament.
  • The Association was represented at short notice by Dr Joshua Freeman at a government officials’ briefing workshop organised by the Ministries of Health and Business, Innovation & Employment on the outcomes of the health related issues of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and their impact on the health system. Dr Freeman was surprised by the “lightweight” responses from officials when moving away from technical matters to important issues.
  • Policy & Research Director Lyndon Keene reported on areas of work in his team including continuing analysis of the survey results concerning members’ hours of work and burn-out, a submission to the Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade Select Committee on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, preparing a paper for an academic journal on the ASMS’s presenteeism survey, and research current relevant literature on working on-call and ‘out of hours’.
  • Executive Director Ian Powell reported on his participation on Health Workforce New Zealand’s Medical Workforce Taskforce meeting in February and teleconference in April. This included ongoing discussion on a more ‘fit for purpose’ formula for funding post-graduate medical vocational training, SMO capacity in DHBs, new Ministry of Health modelling of specialist workforce projections, and house surgeon community attachments.
  • There was a report on the attendance of Ian Powell, Angela Belich, Lyndon Keene and Principal Analyst Charlotte Chambers on their attendance at the International Medical Symposium in March in Sydney. The well organised, stimulating and diverse conference was hosted by the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Presentations were given on what it means to be a doctor in the current and rapidly changing technological, social and demographic environment; the tragic consequences of stressed and burnt out doctor and the disconnect between policy and action; ‘entrustable’ professional activities as a competency focused form of medical education; the challenge of cultural safety; performance of doctors in public and private hospitals; and the ageing of doctors.

ASMS branch representatives: Next Executive meeting

Members are invited to forward any issues they may wish to be raised with the National Executive at its next meeting on 7 July to your local Branch President or Vice President (this includes non-DHB employed members who work in the geographic area of these regions). It is possible branch officers might conclude that some of these matters might more appropriately be addressed by the national office

Below is the list of branch officers:

Northland Ian Page Lisa Dawson
Waitemata Jonathan Casement Ywain Lawrey
Auckland Brigid Connor Julian Vyas
Counties Manukau Helen Frith Sylvia Boys
Waikato Annette van Zeist-Jongman Annie Abraham
Lakes Andrew Klava Vacant
Tauranga Matthias Seidel Rod Gouldson
Whakatane Richard Forster Guy Rosset
Taranaki Campbell White Allan Binnie
Tairawhiti Angela Freschini Mary Stonehouse
Hawke’s Bay Kai Haidekker Jenny Corban
Whanganui Chris Cresswell Mark Van de Vyver
Palmerston North Andy Spiers John Bourke
Wairarapa Norman Gray Naser Abdul-Ghaffar
Hutt Valley Neil Stephen Jeff Suen
Wellington Justin Barry-Walsh Sinead Donnelly
Nelson Clive Garlick Andrew Munro
Marlborough Prieur du Plessis Jeremy Stevens
West Coast Paul Holt Stuart Mologne
Canterbury Anja Werno Geoffrey Shaw
South Canterbury Matthew Hills Peter Doran
Otago Chris Wisely John Chambers
Southland Tim Mackay Roger Wandless

National Executive: Regional Representatives

In addition to National President, Hein Stander (Gisborne) and Vice President, Julian Fuller (Waitemata), the Executive comprises eight regional representatives. They are:

Region 1 (Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau)

Carolyn Fowler (Counties Manukau)

Jeannette McFarlane (Auckland)

Region 2 (Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Taranaki)

Paul Wilson (Bay of Plenty)

Jeff Hoskins (Waikato)

Region 3 (Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, MidCentral, Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, Capital & Coast)

Tim Frendin (Hawke’s Bay)

Jeff Brown (Palmerston North)

Region 4 (South Island)

Seton Henderson (Canterbury)

Murray Barclay (Canterbury)

Members are welcome to raise issues and comments with their regional representatives above by clicking on the relevant email address. This includes non-DHB employed members who work in the geographic area of these regions.

Kind regards

Ian Powell