14 Nov 2012

New kind of health worker in rural trial

6:43 am on 14 November 2012

Five rural hospital and community health organisations are about to begin using a new kind of health worker in a two-year project.

American-trained physician assistants were first used in an Auckland hospital and will now be trialled in community healthcare.

Physician assistants receive two to three years' medical training then carry out clinical tasks under doctors' supervision.

Health Workforce New Zealand says the adoption of the idea in New Zealand is inevitable and it has committed $367,000 to a trial in Gore, Te Awamutu, Tokoroa, Hamilton and Huntly.

However, the Nurses Organisation says specialist nurse practitioners could do the work.

Health Workforce NZ executive chair Des Gorman says physician assistants and nurse practitioners have different roles.