National 6 May 2021
Kia ora

We didn't think we would be writing to you again quite so soon, but so much has happened in the past few days ...

Pay freeze

Many of you will have seen in the media yesterday news of the Government’s three-year pay restraint for public service workers. ASMS issued a very strongly-worded media release in response - Public sector pay restraint a 'kick in the teeth'

Other unions such as the Public Service Association, the Nurses Organisation and the Police Association also responded with shock and anger.

As you know, we are in the midst of bargaining for a new MECA. We intend to continue with negotiations in good faith, but this news means we need to think carefully about next steps. We understand the nurses may be taking industrial action in early June, and we should support them to the extent we can. It may be our turn next.

Meanwhile we, along with other public sector unions, are meeting with Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday to register our significant concerns – at both the notion that our members should not receive any pay increase for the next three years, and that such an edict may contravene the principles of good faith bargaining under the Employment Relations Act.

We have already had quite a lot of feedback from members on this. We value your views and encourage you to share them with us. 

“My employer is exhausting” – ASMS Burnout report

We are officially launching the final report from the burnout survey we conducted last year based on responses from 2,100 ASMS members (that’s 45% of you). The survey was a repeat of our 2015  survey and the aim was to compare burnout levels five years on and measure the impact of short staffing, growing patient demand and clinical pressures.

It found burnout is now an entrenched part of the senior medical workforce. One in two of our SMO/SDOs are experiencing high levels of burnout and there has been no improvement in the past five years. The report points out that wellbeing is a formal responsibility of an employer and DHBs have not been meeting their obligations. It highlights what needs to change and makes recommendation around things like adequate resourcing, staff wellbeing indicators and more flexible working arrangements. Read the report, download it and share it - "My Employer is Exhausting' - Burnout in the senior medical workforce five years on". Please get back to us with any feedback.

Creating Solutions conference

If you care about and are interested in health equity and finding solutions, join us from the comfort of your own home or office at our virtual Creating Solutions – Towards better health equity for all conference being held July 2-3. It is being co-hosted by ASMS and the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust. We have put together a great programme of speakers. It will be opened by the Health Minister Andrew Little.

Some of the topics include:

  • How to address poverty in a low wage economy and high-cost country
  • Ethnic and Cultural Prejudice: the long-term effects of colonisation
  • Universal free access to health care
  • How health workforces can encourage affirmative action
  • What to do about unmet need

All those attending will be asked to actively contribute to practical solutions to growing health inequities, and a list of recommendations will be taken to government. This is going to be a worthwhile and meaningful event, which also qualifies for CME points, so register now to take part.

Covid vaccinations

The Medical Council and the Dental Council have issued guidance to medical practitioners around the Covid vaccine and professional responsibility. They say they have an expectation that all dental and medical practitioners will take up the opportunity to be vaccinated unless medically compromised. Read the joint guidance statement here.

ASMS fully supports the vaccination programme and is taking part in a wider union initiative to encourage all New Zealanders to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated.

Ngā mihi

Sarah Dalton