19 April 2010

The New Zealand Medical Association is calling on the Government to reconsider its stated intention to raise course fees for medical students saying that such a move will adversely affect New Zealand's ability to retain doctors in New Zealand.

"Recent Government moves to address critical shortages in the medical workforce, such as increasing medical student places, made sense and were long overdue. Raising fees, thereby increasing already extremely high debt levels, does not, and threatens the retention of New Zealand doctors," says NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley.

Tertiary Education Minister Stephen Joyce has spoken out about students in general who do not provide justified value for continuing to be eligible for student loans, as well as the need to increase the fees for some courses.

"Medical students work hard and do have an end employment goal – there is high value in New Zealand supporting them in their study. We need to encourage more young people into medical training to meet the needs of our medical workforce and health system," says Dr Foley.

"The debts owed by many medical students and doctors-in-training are huge and are a major factor influencing decisions to leave New Zealand for higher paid positions overseas."

"The problem is also exacerbated at a time when Australia is intensively recruiting New Zealand doctors and has lowered barriers to New Zealand doctors so they can work in Australia."

Dr Foley says the Government needs to halt plans to raise fees for higher cost courses, and "to immediately have discussions with medical student and professional organisations about these issues."

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