NATIONAL 12 August 2019
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 11th issue for 2019 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

Region 3 by-election results

In addition to the President and Vice President who are elected nationally, the ASMS National Executive has 8 regional representatives (two from each of the four regions). Region 3 (Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, MidCentral, Wairarapa, Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast DHBs) has a new representative on the ASMS National Executive – MidCentral DHB paediatrician Dr Nathalie de Vries. She replaces Dr Tim Frendin (Hawke’s Bay geriatrician) who, as previously advised, has resigned.

There were two candidates for the position and the result was close. As always, we greatly appreciate members’ willingness to stand for the Executive; it shows that the region, and ASMS, are in good heart whenever we have people willing to make a contribution at a national or branch level.

Dr de Vries’ position on the National Executive takes effect immediately, and is for the balance of the three year term of the National Executive which ends on 31 March 2021.

RDA-DHB MECA dispute: finally, some good news

ASMS has been advised that the MECA negotiations between the Resident Doctors’ Association and the DHBs have concluded, with an agreement ratified by both parties. We do not know the details of the settlement but welcome news that this long-running dispute has ended (

ASMS believes that this was an avoidable dispute that will leave serious legacies, including whether many of our future supply of DHB-employed specialists will see DHBs as their employers of choice.  There are concerning reports that a number of RMOs have left DHB employment. ASMS is keen to engage with the relevant parties to both mitigate the damage and turn around negative legacies.

Urgent efforts needed to restore confidence in Christchurch Hospital planning

Senior doctors have increasingly been speaking out about issues with facilities and are to be commended for doing so. Specialists at Canterbury DHB have expressed a lack of confidence in Christchurch hospital planning, in a letter to their DHB’s Board (

It is a timely reminder that the design and planning of public hospital facilities should always be based on the advice of those with the relevant clinical expertise. Our media release on the matter can be read at

Ensuring facilities and services are planned properly is particularly important as public hospitals struggle with high levels of unmet need and increasing acute demand. In the past week we’ve had yet more reports of hospitals struggling to cope with the winter influx of patients, providing more evidence of a public health system under pressure (

Registration open for the ASMS Annual Conference

You can now register your interest in attending the ASMS Annual Conference is being held in Wellington on 28-29 November (Thursday-Friday).

The Conference will cover a range of relevant health policy and industrial issues. The programme is being finalised but Health Minister Dr David Clark has confirmed he will address the Conference again this year.

A major theme of the Conference will be preparing for our next multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations due to start early next year, with the current MECA expiring on 31 March 2020.

If you would like to register your interest for the Conference, more information is available on the ASMS website at, including details of provisions for leave, travel and accommodation.

Did you know...about job offers?

ASMS offers free advice on job offers to anybody being offered employment as a senior doctor in DHBs in New Zealand. As well as a membership service to existing SMOs moving between DHBs, this includes registrars looking at their first posting or doctors coming from overseas and they do not need to be members at that point in order to access this service.

Having an ASMS industrial officer check on a job offer is a very good way to ensure new doctors in DHBs get fair and equitable conditions but also allows us to check how conditions are being applied equitably to those already employed.

If you are aware of an RMO or someone from overseas getting a job offer from a DHB please remind them of the opportunity (without having to be a ASMS member) to access our advice. 

If you are moving between DHBs yourself, we also recommend getting in touch.  There are regional variations that you may not be aware of and we can help with. Contact us at the ASMS national office on 04 499 1271.

Kind regards,

Ian Powell