Policies boost doctor numbers
Medical students. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Policies boost doctor numbers

September 26, 2023 Staff reporters

The government’s proposal to train an additional 95 doctors each year from 2025 to 2027, on top of the 50 additional places announced for 2024, has been met with mixed responses.


An additional 285 places over three years is an efficient and swift response to the nation’s doctor crisis and reflects proposals the University of Auckland (UoA) has discussed with successive governments, said UoA vice-chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater. “Using existing infrastructure, staff and capacity means more doctors can be trained faster in the most cost-effective way for the country.”


Dr Julian Vyas, a paediatric doctor at Auckland’s Starship Children's Hospital told RNZ the boost to student numbers was great, but it would be 10 or 15 years before any of them qualified as consultants. "We estimate that we need 1,700 specialist doctors and dentists now. Fifty more places in our medical schools, that's an investment in our future... but there's also a crisis now with staff morale, staff fatigue, burnout and that longer-term gain does not address the immediate problems."


Labour’s plans will mean an additional 335 doctors trained each year from 2027, increasing the number of trainee doctors at both medical schools by 62% to 874. “We need more doctors given the decades of underfunding of our health system, and this record boost to our doctor training will make a difference for years to come,” said Labour leader Chris Hipkins.


Meanwhile National has pledged to tackle this issue with a new $380m medical school in Waikato, which would train a further 120 doctors a year from 2027.


Both parties have also pledged to train more nurses, with National promising incentives for trainees in response to them agreeing to work in New Zealand for the first five years of their career.