18 September 2008

A debt relief system for medical graduates could go a long way to help retain these young doctors in New Zealand, says the New Zealand Medical Association.

National Leader John Key today unveiled his party's plan for voluntary bonding of health professionals, to help improve graduate retention, as part of a comprehensive health workforce plan.

"The NZMA welcomes this voluntary scheme. Doctors currently graduate with huge levels of debt, and we have to arrest the tempting move to seek higher incomes overseas in an effort to deal with their huge burden," said NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley.

"We are pleased that the National Party has acknowledged that doctor shortages are a major problem for the New Zealand health system. The NZMA has for years been calling for action of this kind to assist graduate doctors. This is not a complete solution, but is a major step with specific goals."

"Many areas of New Zealand are experiencing shortages of doctors, and this scheme will also benefit the hospitals, general practice and patients in those areas by providing them with New Zealand-trained doctors," Dr Foley said.

"We are pleased that this system is voluntary, as forcing medical students into such arrangements could be counter-productive."