Ju­nior doc­tors ‘not used ef­fec­tively’

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Morgan

Auck­land’s health boss is ques­tion­ing the re­ported ju­nior doc­tor short­age in the re­gion.

Dis­trict health board chair­man Pat Sned­den is con­cerned ju­nior doc­tors’ time is just not be­ing used ef­fec­tively.

“Have we got too few ju­nior doc­tors? Prob­a­bly we don’t, but we ap­pear short be­cause of the way we use them.”

Mr Sned­den says dis­trict health boards have of­fered to set up a com­mis­sion as part of wage ne­go­ti­a­tions to look at the way ju­nior doc­tors are trained.

“The role of a ju­nior doc­tor is to be trained to be a se­nior doc­tor. A ju­nior doc­tor’s role is not to be a se­nior nurse.”

Mr Sned­den wouldn’t elab­o­rate on changes that could be made to ju­nior doc­tors’ train­ing but pointed out that “plung­ing them into full­time work do­ing roles of other play­ers in the sys­tem” wasn’t the best use of ju­nior doc­tors’ tal­ents.

He is keen to look into the mat­ter fur­ther but in­sists no progress can be made dur­ing wage ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“We can’t do any­thing with a ham­mer over our head, which is the re­al­ity of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.”

But Res­i­dent Doc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion gen­eral sec­re­tary Dr Deb­o­rah Pow­ell says ju­nior doc­tors have been try­ing to im­prove the way they are trained for sev­eral years.

“With the de­mand in ser­vice there isn’t any chance for res­i­dents to get ded­i­cated train­ing time.

“We need to find a way to make this time guar­an­teed.”

And Dr Pow­ell says there is al­ready a com­mit­tee, which has been in op­er­a­tion for 12 months, that is sup­posed to look into those mat­ters.

“We’ve taken quite a few of th­ese is­sues to the com­mit­tee. While the com­mit­tee ap­proved of the ideas, DHBs haven’t moved.”

Dr Pow­ell ad­mits there will even­tu­ally be a res­o­lu­tion to the dis­pute, but is con­cerned up to 20 per­cent of the re­main­ing ju­nior doc­tor work force could dis­ap­pear over­seas as a re­sult of the dis­pute.

Mean­while Mr Sned­den hopes the Auck­land board can play a big­ger role in ne­go­ti­a­tions in the fu­ture.

“One way we can af­fect our own out­comes is for Auck­land to be­come more of a na­tional player.”

Pat Sned­den

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