National 27 October 2016
Dear Member,

Welcome to the twelfth issue for 2016 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

RMO petition for safer hours

The New Zealand Resident Doctors Association is launching a public petition in support of its campaign for safer hours, and has asked health unions – including the ASMS – to advise members of this petition and campaign in case you would like to participate.

More information about the RDA campaign is available at and the petition is available at

Australia: progress for health professionals speaking out about abuses in refugee and asylum detention centres

The Age newspaper in Australia reports that the Turnbull government has quietly backed down on unpopular laws that threatened doctors and nurses with prison if they spoke out about abuses in offshore detention centres. Under these laws, doctors, nurses and other health professionals risk two years’ jail if they publicly revealed physical or sexual abuse, or medical negligence in Nauru and other places. The government back down is a significant victory for those who have been campaigning on this issue.

The full story in The Age can be viewed at

Annual Conference highlight: Physician advocacy

Associate Professor Phil Bagshaw will address the ASMS Annual Conference next month on the issue of physician advocacy. This promises to be a very thought-provoking presentation which is bound to stimulate some discussion.

Phil Bagshaw has been Associate Professor of Surgery at Christchurch School of Medicine, Chair of the New Zealand National Board of the RACS, and Chair of the Council of Medical Colleges in New Zealand. He is now Chair of the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust board and works there as a volunteer general surgeon.

Reminder: Annual Conference dates

A reminder – please put the date of the Annual Conference in your diaries if you haven’t already: 17-18 November at Te Papa, Wellington.

The Conference will feature a range of presentations on topics relevant to your work, including:

  • Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman.
  • Update on the ASMS-DHB MECA negotiations – Ian Powell, ASMS Executive Director.
  • Proposed funding model for vocational medical training – Dr Derek Sherwood, Chair of Council of Medical Colleges.
  • The latest research on New Zealand’s senior medical workforce – Dr Charlotte Chambers, ASMS Principal Analyst (Policy & Research).
  • The issue of frailty – Dr Tim Frendin, ASMS National Executive and Geriatrician at Hawke’s Bay DHB.
  • Physician advocacy – Associate Professor Phil Bagshaw, General Surgeon and Chair of the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust.
  • The economics of the health story and the role of public engagement – Shamubeel Eaqub, Economist, author and commentator.

Every branch is entitled to a set number of delegates – please contact our Membership Support Officer Kathy Eaden at if you are interested in attending.

Did you know…about fixed term contracts?

Generally, we do not encourage fixed term employment and under the Employment Relations Act a job may only be for a fixed term where there is a ‘genuine reason based on reasonable grounds’ that it is not permanent. Covering for a SMO or SDO who is on leave (eg, parental, sabbatical, long term sick, etc) is the most common reason for this. However, there are some other situations where a fixed term appointment may be appropriate, such as for a fixed period to complete further sub-specialty training. We do recommend that where a fixed term position is being offered, the affected SMO/SDO and department seek ASMS advice.

Kind regards

Ian Powell
Executive Director