National 13 October 2021
Kia ora

I hope this finds you well and looking forward to Labour Weekend. We are particularly grateful for the work being done by our public health medicine specialists. We know there’s a huge burden of ongoing work and that the public interest in Covid cases, testing, and related matters, creates extra and unneeded pressure. We continue to advocate for short and longer-term improvements that should make your work less onerous, and more sustainable.

MECA and mediation

The employers have responded to your stopwork messages by agreeing to two days of mediation next month (1 and 8 November) and also to some high-level talks with the DHB Chief Executive responsible for the negotiations Kevin Snee, and Andrew Norton from the Health and Disability Review Transition Unit. Andrew has been invited to these discussions with a view to future proofing any useful initiatives agreed. We will write with more details following the mediation meetings. 

Annual Conference 2021 – Register now!

Registrations are open for the 33rd ASMS Annual Conference. Due to Covid restrictions the Conference will be a one-day virtual event on 25 November. The Health Minister Andrew Little will give an address and there will be a full AGM, along with guest speakers including Stephen McKernan from the Transition Unit and the new co-chair of Health NZ Sharon Shea. As there are no crowd limits we hope as many of you as possible will attend. For more information and to register please go here.

Doctor and Dentist Art Exhibition - spots available

The doctor and dentist artists' exhibition, which we originally envisaged to run alongside an "in-person" Annual Conference, is still going ahead at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington. However due to Covid some members have had to pull out. This means there are spots available for any doctor or dentist artist who would like to exhibit. The exhibition runs from 24 November-5 December. There will be an opening event (Covid permitting) on the evening of 24 November. If you would like to take part and have any work (paintings, sculpture, jewellery etc) you would like to display, please contact our senior industrial officer Lloyd Woods


Creating Solutions: A roadmap to health equity 2040

You may remember that in July we co-hosted, alongside the Canterbury Charity Hospital, a virtual conference to look at the stark inequities in Aotearoa New Zealand and come up with solutions. Out of that we have written a report Creating Solutions – Te Ara Whai Tika, which sets out a policy roadmap to health equity by 2040. We delivered it to the Health Minister Andrew Little at parliament late last month. It has also been sent to DHBs, health sector organisations and health advocacy groups. We have received a lot of positive feedback. Please feel free to read it, download it and share it with your colleagues. You can find it here

Mandatory vaccination for health workers

As you are probably aware, the Government has moved to make vaccination mandatory for health and education workers. ASMS has publicly supported this move and is now asking the Ministry of Health about planning for a Covid booster for those health staff who received their vaccination earlier in the rollout. See our press release.  You can find out more about exactly who the mandatory vaccination order covers here. If this raises any employment or workplace concerns for you, please contact your industrial officer.

Photo: ASMS President Dr Julian Vyas receiving his vaccination

Doctors Stand up for Vaccination

We have been supporting a grassroots initiative by a group of doctors in organising an open letter from doctors to encourage public Covid-19 vaccination. It now has more than 5,000 signatures. The group Doctors Stand up for Vaccination, has put together some useful resources and fact sheets about the vaccine which can help inform discussions between doctors and their patients. You can sign the letter and view the resources here.

End of life legislation

We have asked the Medical Protection Society (MPS) for medico-legal advice on the end-of-life legislation which comes into effect next month. The End-of-Life Choice Act 2019 sets out the legal framework and a high-level process for accessing assisted dying, including strict eligibility criteria and safeguards. Assisted dying will be an entirely new service within the health and disability system. Your rights and responsibilities around this issue are important and we will share the advice as soon as we receive it. 

Following member queries, we have also approached the Medical Council and MPS seeking advice around a doctor’s refusal to treat unvaccinated patients. Early signs are that doctors have an obligation to treat all patients, but we will share more detailed advice when we have it.

Smokefree 2025 Action Plan

Health Coalition Aotearoa has launched an open letter of support for the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan to help get it over the line. It believes the Action Plan will be a gamechanger in ending smoking-related harm in our communities, as well as easing the pressure of smoking related disease on our health system. ASMS is a firm supporter of Health Coalition Aotearoa which is a membership-based charity offering academics, NGOs, and health professionals a collective voice in improving population health. You can find out more and sign the open letter in support of the Smokefree Action Plan here

Transition unit and JCCs

We are about halfway through the third round of our JCCs for the year. They have all been held virtually over Zoom, and it’s been great to see so many of you turning out. We have invited leaders from the Health and Disability Review Transition Unit to come to the pre-meetings to give members an update and answer any questions. There have been some very useful discussions. For those of you in DHBs where JCCs have not yet been held, I would encourage you to come along. Find out when the JCC is in your DHB here. If you want to be included in JCC notices, including Zoom links, please email

Kia kaha koutou – and thank you for the work you do each day to keep our health system running.

Ngā mihi nui

Sarah Dalton