Senior doctors need more than hollow words as Australia comes knocking

Published: October 22, 2021

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora is calling on the Government to put words into action when it comes to valuing frontline health workers, with Australia poised to bring in thousands of extra clinical staff.

The Health Minister Andrew Little said this week that health workers should feel assured that the pressure they are under, is not unnoticed.

“When you’ve been offered a zero percent pay rise, which effectively amounts to a pay cut, and no prospect of better staffing and conditions, those words seem very hollow,” says ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton.

The senior doctor workforce is fatigued and demoralised as it juggles entrenched staffing shortages and overstretched services, alongside the immediate threat of Covid and resulting patient backlogs.

ASMS and DHBs are due to go into mediation next month over stalled collective contract negotiations for senior hospital doctors and dentists.

ASMS is asking for a very modest pay rise to simply reflect cost of living increases, but DHBs have continued to come back with a zero offer.

“Employer gratitude should not equal pay restraint, especially at a time when our doctors, who work tirelessly for the public health system, are being asked to step up, cover staffing gaps, work longer hours and make personal sacrifices to keep their patients and their families safe during Covid,” Sarah Dalton says.

Australia is reportedly set to allow 2,000 overseas doctors and nurses into the country to ease a healthcare staffing crisis there.

“With specialists earning up to 60% more in Australia, it’s a very promising option. We’ve had members writing to us saying they are being regularly targeted by Australian medical recruiters offering to double their current salaries”.

“Our doctors are keeping New Zealanders safe and holding our health system together. The Government needs to show senior medical and dental specialists the same commitment and give them a reason to stay,” says Sarah Dalton.