National 19 September 2017
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 10th issue for 2017 of ASMS Direct, our national electronic publication.

You can also keep in touch with the latest news and views on health issues relevant to public hospital specialists via our website, which contains links (at the top of the home page) to our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as our quarterly magazine The Specialist. We’re also on Twitter at

The bargaining fee ballot

The ante penultimate episode of the ASMS DHB MECA negotiations saga is the bargaining fee ballot, which was held at all DHBs in mid to late August.

The process requires DHBs and ASMS to agree that a bargaining fee will be levied on SMOs who are not members of ASMS and then for a ballot to be held at each DHB of both ASMS members and SMOs who are not members to decide whether a ballot will apply at that DHB.

That ballot has now been held and has resulted in the majority of SMOs at every DHB agreeing that a bargaining fee will be levied ( 

The next step is for non-members of ASMS to have the opportunity to opt out of the MECA (and the bargaining fee). By the time you read this, that step will have been concluded. Following that, the bargaining fee will be taken out of bargaining fee payers salary in four equal instalments over four successive pays beginning in the pay period following 15 September.

Know your new MECA workshops – coming to a DHB near you

ASMS members employed by DHBs have a new MECA – so what’s different? And what has stayed the same?

You can find out at a series of ‘Know your new MECA’ workshops being held at DHBs around the country. These are being organised by your ASMS industrial officers to give you up-to-date information about your entitlements under the new MECA, and to answer any questions you may have.

Meetings will be held at every major site and will be advertised well in advance. The details will also be posted on the ASMS website at https//

I encourage you all to attend and to invite your colleagues as well.

Staffing surveys reveal significant SMO shortfalls

In the past week ASMS has sent the results of two staffing surveys to members at Capital & Coast and Nelson Marlborough DHBs. These reveal a shortage of specialists at CCDHB three and a half times larger than the number of vacancies officially recorded, and nearly two and a half times larger at NMDHB.

The ASMS media release about the CCDHB survey is at and the NMDHB survey is at Reports on previous surveys at Hawke’s Bay and MidCentral DHBs are on the ASMS website at

These surveys of clinical leaders at selected DHBs are being carried out by ASMS with a view to assessing how many SMO full-time equivalents are needed to provide a safe and quality service for patients, including patients in need of treatment but unable to access it. As many of you know, data produced by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show New Zealand has one of the lowest number of specialists per head of population out of 32 countries.

Did you know…about salary increases?

All ASMS members will be getting salary increases (average of 2%) for both the specialist and medical/dental officers’ scales. The effective dates for these increases are 3 July 2017 (with back pay), 5 March 2018 and 1 April 2019.

There are also two additional steps added to the top of both the specialist and the medical/dental officer scales. Those who have been on the top step of the current scales for at least 12 months on 5 March 2018 will be eligible to advance to the first additional step on this date (step 14 for Medical and Dental Specialists and step 13 for Medical and Dental Officers).

Those who have been on the top step for less than 12 months on 5 March 2018 will be eligible to advance to the new step on their usual anniversary date. For example, if you advanced to the current top step on 1 May 2017, you will advance to the new additional step on 1 May 2018.

The effective date for the second additional step is 1 April 2019.

Kind regards,

Ian Powell
Executive Director