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.

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Senior doctors call on Health Minister to support safe staffing accord in public hospitals

3 December 2018 Media Release - ASMS

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is calling on Health Minister David Clark to support the development of a safe staffing accord with senior doctors and dentists working in public hospitals.

“Hospital specialists, like nurses and other frontline health workers, continue to suffer from high workloads caused by years of under-resourcing and neglect of the public health system, and problems with high levels of burnout and forced to work while sick and infectious,” says ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell.

“We now have a 50% burnout rate of specialists, high levels of job dissatisfaction, approximate specialist shortages of around one-fifth right now, and to be made even worse by 25% of specialists intending to leave public hospitals over 5 years.

“This is neither sustainable nor fair, and it is not good for patient care. One way of making meaningful progress to address these problems would be through a safe staffing accord between ASMS, the country’s 20 district health boards, and the Ministry of Health.”

Delegates at the ASMS Annual Conference in Wellington last Friday voted unanimously in favour of a resolution calling on the Minister of Health to actively support the ASMS initiative for a safe staffing accord covering DHB-employed senior doctors and dentists between ASMS, the Ministry of Health, and the 20 DHBs.

“This is a clear message to the Minister from some of the most senior doctors in the country, and we urge him to actively support an accord that will help ensure safe levels of SMO staffing.

“Dr Clark playing a constructive leadership role in ensuring a safe staffing accord for nurses.  All we are asking is that he does something similar for overworked, highly stressed and burnt out senior doctors.

“This is a crisis that the Minister of Health has inherited from the former government.  But if he does not act soon and become part of the solution, he will become responsible for the crisis and a central cause of the problem”