Junior doctors’ role questioned
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,” he says.
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.
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.”