NATIONAL 15 August 2016
Dear Member,

Welcome to the fifth 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

  1. Burnout rife among DHB- employed senior doctors and dentists
  2. Did you know…
  3. ASMS homepage news items

Burnout rife among DHB-employed senior doctors and dentists

The extent of burnout among the senior medical workforce in New Zealand’s public hospitals has been revealed. Research by Dr Charlotte Chambers, ASMS Principal Analyst (Policy & Research), shows that burnout is rife, with half of all senior doctors and dentists surveyed appearing to have very high levels of burnout.

A full report of the research findings, “Tired, worn-out and uncertain”: Burnout in the New Zealand public hospital senior medical workforce, is available from the ASMS website at A shorter Q&A document is also online at

ASMS surveyed members using an internationally recognised tool called the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI), which defines burnout as a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study in the world to investigate levels of burnout using the CBI in a cross-vocational nationwide survey of senior doctors and dentists.

The survey found:

  • Half (50.1%) of hospital specialists reported symptoms of burnout – ie, high levels of fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Nearly half (42.1%) said this was due to their work, and they cited frustrations with management, intense and unrelenting workloads, under-staffing, and onerous on-call duties.
  • 15.7% attributed their burnout to their interactions with patients.
  • Three out of five female specialists (59.4%) were likely to be experiencing burnout, compared with 43.9% of male specialists.
  • Burnout was even more prevalent among female doctors aged between 30 and 39, with 7 out of 10 (70.5%) experiencing burnout. More than half (51.1%) attributed this to their work.
  • The prevalence of burnout in New Zealand’s senior medical workforce is higher than that found in comparable international studies of health sector workers.
  • Some medical specialties reported higher levels of burnout than others – in particular, emergency medicine, dentistry and psychiatry.

ASMS has written to DHB chief executives to alert them to the burnout survey findings and also remind them of their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. We have also asked to meet them as soon as possible to discuss the findings. We will also be discussing this with senior management teams at our Joint Consultation Committees in each of the 20 DHBs.

The survey results were presented to the annual ASMS Branch Officers’ workshop in Wellington on Friday. Following discussion, branch officers voted in favour of the following resolution:

In light of mutual obligations under the MECA and the Health and Safety at Work Act, this ASMS branch officer national workshop urges the Association to work with DHBs to address the unacceptable rate of SMO burnout and foster a positive culture at work.

Did you know…

…that if you drop FTE, this will affect your salary and conditions of work. Issues ranging from superannuation, to call, to CME, plus your existing and future leave entitlements need to be taken into consideration. We recommend that, should you be thinking about reducing your hours of work, you contact your ASMS industrial officer for advice.

ASMS homepage news items

The following items can be downloaded from

  1. Predatory health professionals still practising (Herald on Sunday)
  2. Senior hospital doctors struggling with stress and overwork (various)
  3. Burnout rife among senior doctors and dentists working in public hospitals (ASMS)
  4. Call to update mental capacity legislation (Otago Daily Times)
  5. Government in mediation with midwives over gender pay discrimination (Stuff)
  6. Lakes hospital to get upgrade (Otago Daily Times)
  7. Registered nurse prescribing in primary health and specialty teams (Nursing Council)
  8. Medical Council review of its statement on prescribing performing enhancing medicines in sport (Medical Council)
  9. Medical school an asset to DHB, say profs (Otago Daily Times)
  10. Health Minister puts skids under cheaper GP visits, says Labour (Labour media release).


Kind regards

Ian Powell