16 May 2015

Workforce claims 'misleading' - doctors' union

9:19 am on 16 May 2015

Record numbers of doctors and nurses are working in the public health system, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says.

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The Government says 986 extra senior doctors have joined district health boards in the past seven years. Photo: 123RF

The latest health workforce survey shows, as of the end of March, there were 7648 doctors employed by district health boards - an increase of 29 percent since 2008 - and 22,092 nurses, up 20 percent in the same period.

Jonathan Coleman.

Jonathan Coleman Photo: RNZ

Dr Coleman said health funding had increased every year under the National-led Government and was set to receive the largest share of new funding in this month's Budget.

"While many other countries are freezing or even reducing health funding, we are committed to protecting and growing our public health services."

However, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists president Ian Powell said the figures were "misleading" because they included temporary and casually employed doctors.

"But even if we are generous and take his claim at face value, his figures work out at an average of 154 extra medical specialists in hospitals each year, which is still approximately 100 specialists short of what New Zealand needs each year," he said.

"So saying that the numbers have gone up - which they have - while not taking into account the full picture is somewhat disingenuous."