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The Green List confirms Health Sector Failure to support workforce

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The recently announced immigration Green List simply confirms what key health Unions have been saying for years; that the health sector has failed to value these essential workforces and support their pipelines.

APEX representing allied scientific and technical health practitioners, and NZRDA representing Resident Doctors (also known as RMOs or Resident Medical Officers) represent a significant number of professions on the Green List:

Medical Physicists are shortly to take industrial action because of a failure to receive an acceptable offer from their DHB employers. ‘Whilst there is no doubt that this is a critical and vulnerable workforce that should most certainly be on the Green List, the inclusion of Medical Physicists is all but pointless.’ David Munro Advocacy Lead for the APEX union remarked. ‘Physicists in other countries certainly show plenty of interest in coming to New Zealand for lifestyle choices, but when they see the pay rates that they’ll receive they almost inevitably change their mind.’ Mr Munro continued. ‘The current salaries are too low to retain existing Physicists in New Zealand and are certainly too low to be attractive to candidates from overseas.’ The issue of insufficient psychologists in the health and education sectors also shows a failure of our system to pay sufficiently attractive salaries or attend to pipeline barriers. ‘Psychologists in Education and Health are amongst the lowest paid in the public sector, let alone outside it’ said Melissa Dobbyn, Advocate for psychologists at APEX. ‘The need for more intern positions to get our psychology graduates into definitive roles has also been accepted for years, however DHBs have failed to fund sufficient placements.’ Similar issues of the Medical Laboratory workforce, have been clearly articulated recently. RMOs, the doctors whose ongoing training is required to fill the ranks of the medical specialists (Senior Doctors) yet again demonstrate the DHBs failure to proactively address pipeline issues. ‘Should nurses accept the pay equity offer, a first year doctor will be paid the same hourly rate as a first year nurse’ says Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary of NZRDA the union representing Resident Doctors. ‘Whilst we celebrate the nurses finally being paid what they are worth, the impact on the resident doctor workforce, 59.8% of whom are women falling 0.2% short of the required 60% threshold to raise a pay equity claim, is obvious." Says Dr Powell. ‘Due to the DHBs changing key dates in the resident doctor’s calendar to align with Australia, the additional risk of losing our own doctors to the higher rates of pay in Australia is very real.’

Health NZ has recognised workforce as one of their critical issues when they come into existence on 1 July 2022. ‘The Green List has simply confirmed what we already know,’ says Dr Powell ‘that the perilous state of the professions on the green list is because of DHB failures to recognise and reward these critical workforces, or support their pipelines.’

APEX and NZRDA look forward to a an entirely new approach from HNZ to these essential workforces.

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