The Government's voluntary bonding scheme has failed to include pharmacists in its recent widening - even though the sector struggles to retain staff in rural areas. The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (the Guild) supported the Pharmacy Council's submission in 2009 to widen the voluntary scheme to include pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists.
The scheme encourages newly-qualified doctors, nurses and midwives to start their careers in hard to staff communities and specialties by offering payments to student loans after a three to five year bonded period. Graduate doctors, nurses, midwives, medical physicists and radiation therapists have until Friday 13 July 2012 to register their interest in joining the Government's scheme.
"The Guild would like the Government to expand the scheme to include pharmacists," says the Guild's Executive Chair, Karen Crisp. "Community pharmacy has had difficulty attracting and retaining professional staff in rural areas for some time."
In addition, the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand's Workforce Demographics states that in the 12 months ended 30 June 2011, 117 requests for statements of good standing were actioned for pharmacists registering with overseas registration boards. This compares with 79 for the previous year. Requests from Australia were up 33 (52.4%) from the previous year to 96.
Only 198 new pharmacist registrations were processed in the year ending 30 June 2011, down 27 (12.0%) from the previous year.
The Guild believes inclusion of pharmacists and interns in the voluntary bonding scheme would help alleviate staff shortages in rural pharmacy and therefore improve access to health care for rural populations.
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