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Issue: April 2019


This newsletter has been created so that workforce-specific updates can be shared as they become available with those interested in health workforce. We had issues with the previous database and received feedback that many people were not receiving updates.

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New strategic governance for health workforce

The Ministry has made changes to the leadership of health workforce strategy and planning and has established a new stand-alone Health Workforce Directorate. In December 2018, the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield updated the sector on this change, highlighting the intention to strengthen the Ministry’s focus and capacity on health workforce issues, ensuring the Ministry is better able to support the wider sector.

“It is also timely to refresh our approach to workforce strategy and planning by clarifying the respective roles and functions of the Minister’s independent committee on health workforce (previously called Health Workforce New Zealand), District Health Boards and the Ministry,” said Dr Bloomfield.

As part of the transition process, the Ministry identified a small interim external advisory committee to support the transition to the new arrangements and advise on the refreshed Terms of Reference and membership of the Section 11 Committee.

This Interim Advisory Committee held its first meeting on 13 February 2019 and follow-up meetings in February and March. The Interim Committee is chaired by Ray Lind (former Chief Executive Officer, Careerforce) and members are Helen Pocknall (Chair, Midwifery Strategic Advisory Group), Dr Ken Clark (Chair, Medical Advisory Group), Jenny Carryer (Chair, Nursing Strategic Advisory Group), Jenny Black (Chair, West Coast & Nelson Marlborough DHBs) and Helen Mason (Chair of the Workforce Strategy Group and CE Bay of Plenty DHB). They are working closely with Ministry’s Health Workforce Directorate.

Key discussion points from the Interim Advisory Committee's first meeting include:

  • workforce planning and development is underway across the sector in a range of settings
  • the challenges relating to workforce and planning and the need for transparent workforce planning
  • how the existing Advisory Groups provide a vital connection between the sector and Ministry.

The Interim Committee members would like to acknowledge the work and efforts by the former HWNZ Board under Professor Des Gorman's leadership since 2009, as well as Board members past and present who were fully committed to providing strategic leadership and insight on health workforce challenges.

The Interim Committee has now considered other relevant Section 11 committees’ terms of reference and working with the Ministry, has developed draft Terms of Reference which will imminently be sent to the Minister of Health for his consideration.


Update on Health Workforce Advisory Groups

The Interim Committee members and the Director-General agreed that the work and activity of the Medical Advisory Group, Allied Health Science and Technical Advisory Group and Nursing Advisory Group meetings would be placed on hold until the updated terms of reference are finalised and future committee members identified. This is to help provide clarity regarding roles and responsibilities between the advisory groups and the new committee.

On 13 February, there was also a well-attended Allied Health sector workshop and, when the new committee is established, we will be able to consider how to more effectively engage with the wide range of allied health professions.

The Midwifery Advisory Group’s work programme will continue as it’s closely linked to the Ministry‘s maternal health programme, and there is a lot to progress in a short amount of time.

The Kāiawhina taskforce will also continue as it is 3.5 years into delivering on their 5 year plan.

The Interim Committee would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the current members of the advisory groups for your contributions and invaluable contribution to date, and the Ministry and Interim Committee look forward to working with the advisory groups further.


Changes in personnel in Health Workforce Directorate

Helen Wood, Acting Deputy Director-General, Health Workforce would like to advise that Claire Austin, Health Workforce Group Manager, has decided to resign to pursue other career opportunities. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Claire for all she has contributed to Health Workforce here at the Ministry, and to workforce development nationally. I would also like to acknowledge the broader strategic and governance work that Claire has contributed to, including primary care, maternity, aged care, data and analytics, and the Nursing Accord. I'm sure you will all join me in wishing her well for the future.” said Helen. Claire's last day at the Ministry was 5 April 2019.


Development of health and disability workforce strategic priorities 2019 - 2024

Over the next few months, the Ministry of Health will be working in collaboration with all parts of the health and disability sector to develop a small number of strategic health workforce priorities for the next five years (2019 – 2024).

Recommendations and a draft action plan to tackle the agreed priorities will be made to the Minister of Health by the end of June 2019. The priorities will build on previous strategic work and align with all the various workforce initiatives already underway nationally, regionally and locally.

The Ministry’s Health Workforce Directorate will lead development of the priorities and action plan, which will be underpinned by He Korowai Oranga.

The strategic priorities and action plan are being developed through an iterative sector collaboration and engagement process, with discussion at scheduled meetings, dedicated workshop sessions and opportunities for online input. Action planning workshops will be held during May.

If you’re interested in attending one of the workshops please e-mail info@healthworkforce.govt.nz by 30 April 2019.

Find out more and tell us what you think:


The Allied Health Workshop and next steps

In February 2019, the Ministry of Health hosted an open workshop for representatives from the Allied Health, Scientific and Technical (Allied Health) sector, attended by 60 people. This workshop was set up to identify steps to improve representative engagement with the Allied Health sector, and improve data collection from the workforce.

The workshop comprised two sessions: the first focusing on data and the second on future engagement between the Ministry’s Health Workforce Directorate and the Allied Health sector.

A summary of notes taken during discussions at the workshop and verbatim notes of participants’ comments can be found on the following page:

If you would like to contribute or comment to supplement that workshop, please email your feedback to info@healthworkforce.govt.nz


Solutions to rural health workforce issues

Longer term, we need a series of measures to improve the supply and distribution of all health workers working in rural New Zealand.

We need a more comprehensive approach to attract, support and sustain all health workers who care for people living in rural communities, including better recruitment and retention of rural staff, and improved ways of delivering rural health services.

The Minister has asked Ministry officials to provide potential options to improve rural health services for those who live away from the cities.

He has asked that the rural health sector to join with the Ministry in scoping these solutions, including multi-disciplinary rural training hubs. Last week, the Minister announced this at the National Rural Health Conference in Blenheim and he has asked Ministry officials to ensure all health professions are considered in future potential solutions.

As a result, the Ministry is establishing a rural workforce reference group to engage with the sector and ensure all possible solutions are considered.

The Ministry also plans to hold a stakeholder summit on 14 May 2019 to consider rural solutions.

An invitation will be sent for the reference group membership to ensure balanced membership, but if you have an interest in rural health and disability workforce, and would like to attend the national workshop, email info@healthworkforce.govt.nz


Health Workforce Development Fund

We have had lots of queries asking for an update on the development fund procurement process that was launched last year. We anticipate advising all applicants and providing details for the next stage following the Easter / Anzac day breaks.


Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Bill passes third reading

On 9 April 2019, the Bill to update the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 passed its third reading and will help clarify the Act’s interpretation and improve its operation. Last week there was also a meeting between the Responsible Authorities and the Ministry to discuss the impacts. Our website is currently being updated to reflect the changes and we will provide you more information in a future update on the impacts.


Contact us

Contact details

Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora
133 Molesworth Street
Thorndon, Wellington, 6011
New Zealand.

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