Sunday, December 9, 2007

Capital Health (NZ) to reduce medical staff

As reported online on the Scoop website recently, Capital and Coast District Health Board in New Zealand is planning to reduce the number of employed doctors so as to limit future deficits. It is certainly one means of achieving that outcome, on the surface at least, considering staff costs to be the single largest cost component for a hospital, however any hospital considering such measures would need to consider the long term implications.

Medical staff perform a vital role within any hospital. One has to assume that government funded hospitals simply do not receive sufficient funding to enable them to employ a surplus of trained medical staff. Therefore it is highly possible that a cut in the number of medical professionals may lead to a reduction in the level of service available to patients, which in turn may increase waiting lists for surgery.

At the same time consideration needs to be given to the message such action might send out to those considering a career in medicine. It takes almost a decade of training to get a doctor to proficiency and full productivity within the hospital system, not to mention the time invested in ongoing professional development. Should the demand for medical professionals fall the it is likely less people will consider entering the profession or those that do may elect not to work within the hospital system. On the surface this may appear a good short term solution for reducing any excess numbers of medical professionals (if there is such an excess), however the time lag between entering the system as a trainee and becoming fully productive means it is necessary to have a full compliment of medical professionals available at all times.

No comments: