Push for more Maori surgeons

5:22 pm on 3 March 2016

Plans are underway to get more Maori doctors to become surgeons.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons said there are only a small number of surgeons in New Zealand who identify as Maori and it aims to significantly increase this number as part of its recently released Maori Health Action Plan.

Dr Anthony Yung (left) with registrar Dr Georgina Harvey excising a skin cancer. For Karen Browns dermatology story

Photo: SUPPLIED / Waikato Hospital

Spokesman Jonathan Koea said there were considerable disparities in health outcomes between Maori and Pakeha.

"Māori, for example, have a greater incidence, mortality rate and lower intervention rates for cardiovascular disease and cancers, and a much shorter life expectancy overall."

The plan aims to develop a more culturally appropriate surgical workforce for Maori, which will include recognising the value of cultural diversity and cultural competence during the selection of all surgical trainees.

Record numbers of Maori doctors graduated university in the past year, but Mr Koea said very few pursued a career in surgery.

"One of the first steps for the College is to identify and eliminate barriers to surgery as a career that Māori doctors face. This can be done, for example, by providing mentors to better prepare Māori doctors who intend to apply for surgical training."

The plan also seeks to focus more surgical research into Māori health and promote initiatives that will decrease the disparities that currently exist for Maori.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs