22nd June 2018, Volume 131 Number 1477

Gareth H Rees, Peter Crampton, Robin Gauld, Stephen MacDonell

Recently, concerns have been raised over the sufficiency, distribution and sustainability of New Zealand’s medical workforce, with competing views being offered on the responses that should be taken.1,2 The arguments…

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New Zealand has recurring shortages of medical professionals, yet many of the solutions implemented have failed to sustainably address the problem. The article suggests that by broadening the range of methods, future workforces could be configured and skilled to meet future expected health needs. By embracing these methods, policy makers can be better equipped to develop options which are more likely to represent future workforce conditions and needs. Including this approach within planning will contribute to the design of more sustainable workforce policies.


Concerns over New Zealand’s health workforce sufficiency, distribution and sustainability continue. Proposed solutions tend to focus on supplying medical professionals to meet predicted numbers or to resolve distributional problems. This is despite quantitative forecasts being known to have poor reliability. A recent study on New Zealand’s health workforce planning, which focused less on medical workforce numbers and more on the system’s organisation and constituent interrelations, highlights the use of complementary methods to define the problems and design a range of policy responses. Core to deciding on suitable interventions is the use of analysis tools, such as judgement-based approaches, which are commensurate with the actual levels of uncertainty being experienced, and which complement quantitative predictive forecasting.

Author Information

Gareth H Rees, Profesor Contratado, ESAN University, Peru;
Peter Crampton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Division of Health Sciences & Dean of Otago Medical School, University of Otago; Robin Gauld, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Commerce & Dean Otago Business School, University of Otago; Stephen MacDonell, Department of Information Science, Otago Business School, University of Otago.


Gareth H Rees, Profesor Contratado, ESAN University, Alonso Molina 1652, Montericco Chico, Surco, Lima 100, Peru.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests

Dr Rees reports grants from Health Workforce New Zealand, University of Otago and Freemasons New Zealand during the conduct of the study. Dr MacDonell reports grants from Ministry of Health outside the submitted work.


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