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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Hospital specialists congratulate midwives on accord – and ask: what about us?

16 April 2019 Media Release - ASMS

“Hospital midwives are to be congratulated for successfully negotiating a safer staffing accord – and now it’s the turn of hospital specialists to have a similar agreement with the Government to address the serious workforce issues they’re dealing with,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

He was commenting on news that Health Minister David Clark will host the signing of a staffing accord for midwives (

ASMS has been trying to secure a similar accord for senior doctors and dentists, but so far without success. Mr Powell noted the Minister’s acknowledgement that midwives are under pressure nationally and face widespread workforce challenges.

“Hospital specialists are dealing with around 20% shortages, burnout levels of around 50%, and with many of them working while sick (including while being infectious), and nearly a quarter stating (in 2016) that they intended to leave public hospital employment within five years,” he says.

“We think the accords negotiated by our health colleagues, the midwives and nurses, are absolutely well deserved and we commend them for their efforts to secure safer workplaces for their members.

“We’re asking for the same, and we don’t understand why the Government doesn’t seem to be listening to what hospital specialists are struggling to cope with. Many struggle to get through each working day.”

Mr Powell says the Minister appears to be responding to noise in the sector, particularly with regard to industrial negotiations and strike action.  He is behaving like a no noise, no interest politician.

“He needs to be more proactive than that and take note of strong evidence of a crisis in the senior medical workforce. A safer specialist staffing accord would not require additional government funding, and would help to put a process in place to address the serious workforce issues hospital specialists are experiencing.”