Prioritising our health workforce

Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced changes at Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ), saying strengthening the health workforce is an ongoing priority.

“New Zealand is lucky to have highly skilled and dedicated doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health workers. They are the heart of our health service and routinely go the extra mile to look after their patients.

“However, it has been clear for some time that we’re facing workforce constraints and in recent years we have not invested sufficiently in planning for a growing and ageing population.

“In recent months as part of a Ministry of Health restructure, the Director-General of Health has created a stand-alone Health Workforce Directorate which will have greater capability and capacity on health workforce issues. This provides an opportunity to refresh the approach to workforce strategy and planning by clarifying the respective roles and functions of HWNZ, DHBs and the Ministry.

“This also provides an opportunity to refresh the membership and role of the HWNZ Board by updating the Terms of Reference with a move toward a stronger strategic governance role, with the Ministry leading on delivery of health workforce strategy, planning, analysis and forecasting, and commissioning.

“As an immediate step, I have accepted Professor Des Gorman’s resignation and I’ve written to other board members informing them of my intentions. I want to acknowledge the significant contribution of the Board under the leadership of Professor Gorman and recognise the commitment of HWNZ board members past and present. Professor Gorman has been Executive Chair of the HWNZ Board since 2009 and during that time has been committed to his task.

“As part of the transition process, the Ministry is identifying a small interim external advisory group to support the transition to the new arrangements and advise on the new HWNZ Terms of Reference.

“We anticipate announcing the new Chair, Board members and updated Terms of Reference in April 2019.

“Looking further ahead, I want to ensure health workforce strategy and planning in New Zealand supports a stronger publicly funded health care system, so I will ask the Health and Disability Health Sector Review to consider future health workforce options as part of its work.

“Again, I offer my sincere thanks to Professor Gorman and the HWNZ Board for their service,” David Clark said.