A senior doctors representative says the number of district health board vacancies could be even higher than official figures.
Financial data for the 20 national DHBs shows average full-time staffing levels are 421 below budget.
The shortfall comprised 260 nurses and more than 100 doctors with the remaining vacancies for other staff such as occupational therapists and support workers.
Executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Ian Powell said those figures were a severe understatement.
"I cannot believe that there are only 400 shortages for nursing and medical positions combined. I cannot speak for nursing but I do know that in the case of hospital specialists we would exceed 400 people alone."
Mr Powell said many medical staff were leaving the profession because of overwork, burnout and low pay was also a factor.
Autocratic management at the district health boards were another reason staff were leaving, he said.
The DHBs say funds for these vacancies are being used to outsource staff.
The boards expect to rack up a total combined deficit of $189 million this financial year.