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News & Media
14 September 2023


Minister Verrall’s announcement yesterday of a significant investment in the health workforce was welcome news for Hauora Taiwhenua and its rural stakeholders.  There is finally acknowledgement in the announcement that the health workforce is ‘the most important component of the health system,’ and that the workforce shortages need long-term solutions.

“We have been making the case for increased training numbers for both GPs and nurses to a procession of Ministers of Health over the past six years and been constantly met by excuses and the need for budget allocation. It is pleasing to see that Labour has now committed to a major increase in medical school numbers, along with growth in the training of nurses, psychiatrists, dentists and midwives.”

This pledge sits alongside the already announced commitment from National for increased medical training placements at both Auckland and Otago Universities, along with the creation of a third medical school in the Waikato, with post-graduate entry focussed on rural training.

Hauora Taiwhenua will support any future Government committed to a programme that will target the training of more health workers in a way that will maximise the potential for those students to work in rural areas once they graduate. Empirical evidence from Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas has clearly shown that medical graduates are six times more likely to practice in rural areas if their training involves immersion in rural communities for longer than 12 months during that training period. This is a philosophy of: for rural, in rural, by rural.

We note that increasing the number of medical trainees by 60% will place increasing pressure on rural and regional practices to offer practical training placement opportunities for those students. Without national coordination of these placements, and those practices seeing a benefit to them in future for rural based workers, there is a real risk that those practices will see this as an imposition rather than an opportunity and opt-out.

“Unfortunately, we do not currently see any specific targeting of rural outcomes in the announcement from Labour other than offering accommodation allowances and the talk of incentives to practice rurally. The evidence we have provided of the benefits of a specific rural teaching methodology have not been reflected to date. We hope this is an oversight and we will be writing to Minister Verrall to seek clarification,” stated Dr Davidson, Chief Executive.

Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to address the current workforce crisis with more interim measures and funding while we begin to develop the future workforce. The place of international graduates to fill the workforce deficit is crucial and Hauora Taiwhenua (previously NZRGPN) continue to work to fill this, supporting the work of Te Whatu Ora’s International Recruitment Centre, based on our well-established track record and contacts in this area.

We are encouraged that any future Government is now committed to growing the health workforce within Aotearoa New Zealand, and we will work with the Government that the nation elects in October to ensure there is a clear pathway for a strong rural workforce through that investment.


Media Contact:
Communications Coordinator