EXECUTIVE 26 July 2019
Dear Member,

This is the third Executive Direct for 2019, reporting on a recent meeting of your National Executive on Wednesday 26 June 2019. We normally send members an Executive Direct after each Executive meeting and also put these on our website (www.asms.org.nz). The Executive will next meet on Thursday 5 September.

The Executive meeting discussed a number of issues, including the recruitment of a new Executive Director, preparations for the 2020 DHB MECA negotiations, action on carbon off-setting, collective bargaining outside of DHBs, and the Government’s health Budget.

Executive member Tim Frendin

Longstanding National Executive member and Region 3 representative Dr Tim Frendin has resigned for personal reasons. The Executive farewelled him at its last meeting and thanked him for his significant contribution to the national leadership of the Association.

Dr Frendin has agreed to collaborate with our Policy and Research team on research about frailty, an area of expertise he has previously spoken on to the 2016 ASMS Annual Conference.

A by-election is currently underway to elect a replacement for Dr Frendin.

Professor Martin McKee

The Executive had a very good discussion with Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was in New Zealand to deliver the keynote address at the well-attended special ASMS 30th Anniversary Conference in Wellington the next day, 27 June. Subjects were wide ranging, including the importance of public health systems, the connection between investing in health and economic performance, and Brexit.

Professor McKee’s visit to New Zealand was generously sponsored by MAS.

Executive Director recruitment

The National President provided the Executive with an update on the process to recruit a new ASMS Executive Director, who will take over from me when I leave the Association at the end of the year.

DHB MECA negotiations

The Executive considered an update on preparations for the 2020 ASMS-DHB MECA negotiations, including a focus on SMO wellbeing and working conditions, and aiming to achieve terms and conditions of employment to better retain existing SMOs and recruit to fill the seriously high current level of shortages estimated to be around 22%.

Carbon off-setting

Delegates at the Association’s Annual Conference last year pasted a resolution that members be encouraged to contemplate the full cost of CME-related air travel, including atmospheric carbon release. To that end, the resolution advised that ASMS members should consider carbon off-setting, and the Association support employer reimbursement of air-travel-related carbon costs as part of legitimate CME travel expenses. Further, the Association itself should move to routine carbon off-setting for work-related air travel for its employees and its representatives, including Executive members.

Carbon off-setting is the process by which the amount of carbon generated is effectively nullified by investing in projects that reduce carbon.

Since the passing of the Conference resolution the Association’s support services team has been looking at suitable options. The Executive considered the issue at its May meeting and again this time. In  May, the Executive approved measures for carbon off-setting of Association travel (excluding certification), and sought more information about the costs, which was provided at the June meeting.

The Association will request regular carbon reports from its travel provider, detailing the carbon footprint for the selected period. Those carbon figures will then entered into an ‘offset emissions’ calculator, which returns a dollar figure and lists the available projects available to purchase.

While it is difficult to calculate the exact costs involved as this will depend on the travel undertaken, an estimate based on the first six months of this year indicates the total cost of off-setting the Association’s carbon emissions for the 2019 calendar year is likely to be around $8000 to $10,000.

As a result the Executive has approved unbudgeted costs of up to $10,000 relating to the purchase of carbon credits.

Collective bargaining outside DHBs

The Executive considered a report on the progress of collective bargaining with non-DHB employers. There are now approximately 244 Association members employed outside of DHBs, and this is steadily increasing.

We are also working towards a membership change through a previously advised constitutional amendment at this year’s Annual Conference and an eventual collective agreement for doctors (mainly public health specialists) working in the Ministry of Health, as well as recruiting more salaried GPs.

Government’s Health Budget

The Executive received a report on the Government’s funding allocation for health. A pre-Budget analysis by the Association and the Council of Trade Unions had estimated Vote Health needed $18,274 million in operating expenses in 2019/20 to maintain the current levels of service. It was significantly short of that mark. The biggest losers in the Budget were DHBs, with ballooning deficits. When considering the estimated funding shortfall for 2019/20, and the Minister’s pressure on DHBs to reduce deficits, it is difficult to see anything but further cuts to services ahead and increasing unmet need for hospital care.

National Joint Consultation Committee (NJCC)

A report was provided on matters discussed at the National Joint Consultation Committee (NJCC) meeting on 14 June. The Association was represented by Executive members Katie Ben, Seton Henderson and Andrew Ewens, along with Executive Director Ian Powell and Deputy Executive Director Angela Belich.  Issues discussed included equal pay, occupational health, the ASMS Standard for Sustainable Work (https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Standard-for-Sustainable-Work-wellbeing_171281.2.pdf), the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Association and the Resident Doctors’ Association, and the SMO safer staffing accord proposed by the Association.


Kind regards,

Ian Powell