30 Sep 2008

Call to boost number of trained doctors in NZ

10:35 pm on 30 September 2008

New Zealand needs to increase the number of doctors it trains by 100 over the next four years, the Government has been told.

The government-appointed Medical Training Board released its first report on the state of the medical workforce on Tuesday.

Medical schools in Auckland and Dunedin are training 365 doctors a year.

However, the board, chaired by former government statistician Len Cook, says that is nowhere near enough to meet the country's needs over the next decade.

It says New Zealand must hold on to doctors trained here, reduce the heavy reliance on overseas-trained doctors and ensure that more New Zealand doctors specialise in general practice.

The board is also calling for better coordination of medical training in universities and hospitals.

Doctors welcome the report but say action, rather than more options, is needed.

Health Minister David Cunliffe says he will discuss the board's proposals with his Cabinet colleagues.

The National Party on Tuesday pledged to boost the number of government funded places in medical schools by more than 50%.

National says it would boost doctor training places by 200 over five years and pay for an extra 50 doctors a year to become specialist general practitioners.

The party says training should be better coordinated to retain more doctors in New Zealand and reduce reliance on overseas-trained doctors.