4 Jul 2012

Bonding pharmacists could help regions - guild

7:44 am on 4 July 2012

Pharmacy Guild leaders say the sector is struggling to retain pharmacists in rural areas as they flock to jobs overseas.

Guild officials are calling for the Government to include pharmacists in its voluntary health bonding scheme, just as doctors, nurses and midwives can have their student debt reduced by working in hard-to-staff rural areas for three to five years.

Government ministers expanded the scheme in their 2012 budget to include radiation therapists and medical physicists.

Last year, 117 New Zealand pharmacists applied for registration in another country - up nearly 40% on the previous year - and pharmacits registrations in this country fell 12 percent over the same period to 198.

Guild executive chair Karen Crisp says including pharmacists in the bonding scheme could help to stem that decline.

Giving pharmacists an incentive to work in rural areas could reduce staffing shortages and improve healthcare.