26 Nov 2013

More women in health workforce - survey

7:31 pm on 26 November 2013

The trend towards more female doctors in the medical workforce is continuing.

The latest Medical Council survey results released on Tuesday show a slight but continued rise in the proportion of women in all workforce roles in the sector.

Male doctors have traditionally outnumbered female doctors and still make up 59% of the medical workforce. But more and more new doctors are women, with females comprising 58% of all house officers and 49% of all registrars.

Twelve years ago, women comprised 47% of house officers and 38% of registrars.

Women also outnumber men among trainees in obstetrics and gynaecology, pathology, paediatrics, general practice and psychiatry.

New Zealand has 14,686 active doctors - a 2.5% rise over the past year.

'Boost needed' for Maori and Pacific numbers

The Medical Council says efforts to get more Maori and Pacific students enrolled in medical schools will have to continue.

The proportion of doctors identifying as Maori has risen slightly to 2.9%, and Pacific doctors to 1.8%. However, it is considerably below the proportions of each ethnic group in the overall population at 14.6% and 6.9%, respectively.

The council's chairperson, John Adams, says increasing those proportions remains a major challenge.

"There's a slight increase in the number of Maori doctors, but we're still actually below the proportion that were in the workforce in 2008, 2009.

"That will change in the future somewhat, because we know that there are more Maori students being admitted to medical schools, which is terrific, but we are well below the population distribution."