11 Aug 2014

Warning of looming specialist shortage

10:25 am on 11 August 2014

Senior doctors warn public waiting lists will lengthen and hospitals could become unsafe if a chronic shortage of specialists is not urgently addressed.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the shortage will swell to 670 full-time positions in the next seven years.

In a report releasd on Monday , the association says nearly a fifth of senior doctors are due to retire in the next five years, further compounding the shortage.

Executive director Ian Powell said nearly half of specialists in the workforce at present are recruited from overseas, and the high turnover rate makes the health system vulnerable.

He said a plan was agreed with DHBs in 2010 to employ 260 more doctors each year, but that hasn't happened, and the Government should act immediately.