23 October 2008

The NZMA has welcomed the announcement of the members of two medical commissions – one for senior doctors (Senior Medical Officers) and one for doctors-in-training (Resident Medical Officers).

"We are pleased to see the line-up of competent and experienced people who will form these two commissions, which will be extremely important to the future direction of the medical profession and the health system," NZMA Chairman Dr Peter Foley said today.

"However, it is somewhat surprising that no doctor-in-training has been appointed to the RMO Commission. It would have been helpful to have an RMO on the commission, who would be able to give a first-hand perspective from those who are training and who handle much of the routine medical work in our public hospital system. Instead, Commission members will need to consult widely with RMOs and ensure their views are listened to."

The medical workforce is facing a crisis, with critical shortages in many areas, and it is vital that strong leadership is shown in this area, Dr Foley said.

"We would expect that the two commissions relating to SMO and RMO workforce problems will produce proposals that result in a genuine culture change within our DHB employment structure, at all stages of the medical career pathway – a culture that sees respect and reward for both trainer and trainee, with the patient being the ultimate beneficiary.

"Senior and Resident Medical Officers both make a huge contribution to the health of the New Zealand people. We need to ensure that sufficient doctors are trained, recruited and retained in New Zealand. There is a global market for health professionals, with many countries able to pay significantly higher salaries. Ultimately, the New Zealand medical workforce needs to become self-sufficient."

The NZMA looks forward to working with both Commissions as we develop sustainable solutions for New Zealand's medical workforce.