Removal of pathologists from long-term skills shortage list unwise
The senior doctors’ union says its concerns about the immigration status of pathologists have been acknowledged but the Government’s response falls well short of what is needed.
Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has written to acknowledge the concerns raised about the removal of pathologists from the Government’s Long-Term Skill Shortage List.
ASMS concerns have been detailed in letters to the Government and also outlined briefly in an article in the latest ASMS magazine, The Specialist (p33, https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/The-Specialist-Issue-118.pdf).
Mr Powell says pathology is vital diagnosis to all parts of medicine and removing it from the Government’s list of much-needed skills will adversely affect a wide range of health services that depends on these specialists.
“Taking this specialty off this list is a huge ill-informed mistake and will add further pressure on a medical workforce already under stress,” he says.
In his letter to ASMS, Mr Lees-Galloway says that while pathology is not included on the Long-Term Skill Shortage List, there are other immigration channels available to overseas pathologists to obtain a work or resident visa in New Zealand. If New Zealanders are unable to fill pathology positions, overseas applicants who apply will not be disadvantaged in obtaining a visa.
Mr Powell says this creates too many bureaucratic hoops to jump through for overseas-trained pathologists desperately needed here. Hospitals needing to fill vacancies as quickly as possible would face unwarranted delays. Any hold-up then risks delaying essential pathology diagnoses required by surgeons and other specialists treating patients.
He says it’s imperative the Government reverses the decision to remove pathologists from the LTSSL as they are a highly vulnerable medical specialty.