We are the union for senior salaried doctors and dentists.

We promote, protect and support the interests of our members in all aspects of their working lives. We are working for an equitable, accessible public health care system that meets the needs of all New Zealanders.

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Whopping senior doctor shortage at West Coast DHB

18 February 2020 ASMS

A survey estimates a 43% shortfall of senior doctors at the West Coast District Health Board.

The Association for Salaried Medical Staff, which represents senior hospital doctors and dentists,
has just released the results of a staffing survey carried out between July and December last year.

It has been looking at staffing levels across DHBs by asking clinical hospital leaders to assess how many full-time specialist positions are needed in their department to provide quality and timely patient care.

Five out of eight heads of department at the West Coast DHB responded to the survey.

The majority said they didn’t have enough specialists for their services. Overall, they estimated a 43% shortfall across the five departments, or almost eight full-time equivalent positions.
ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says people deserve continuity of care wherever they live.

“We know that securing hospital and community-based specialists including GPs can be difficult in rural areas. We would like to see appropriate salary and conditions made available to senior doctors who commit to serving rural communities.

“It’s good to see the West Coast DHB already working with a model that includes directly employing GPs, as it recognises the difficulties specialists and DHBs face in trying to fill long-term gaps,” she says.

Some of those who responded to the ASMS survey referred to financial pressures on the DHB impacting on its ability to recruit required staff, along with a reliance on locums.

Sarah Dalton adds that in small DHBs such as West Coast, staffing shortages are felt more keenly.

“It’s time for the Government to look at how we ensure patients and families who live in rural and remote areas don’t miss out on primary and secondary care due to what some people refer to as the postcode lottery”.
The estimated shortage at West Coast DHB is by far the highest of the 16 DHBs surveyed so far. The current national average staffing shortfall is estimated at around 24%. The previous 15 surveys revealed shortages ranging from 17-36%.
The full report of ASMS’ West Coast DHB staffing survey is here.