Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is welcoming the successful introduction of a new way to assess the future profile of the country’s medical specialty workforce.
“Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) plays a key role helping to ensure the health workforce is well trained, appropriately configured, and able to address the future health needs of New Zealanders,” says Dr Coleman.
“To support this work HWNZ have developed and begun implementing a new more sophisticated modelling system.
“The New Zealand designed new model takes the workforce data and can then adjust for a range of factors including the age of the workforce, the training pipelines and population changes.
“The system was initially adapted for the nursing workforce and following its success will now be expanded to other professions.
Testing the model's forecasts against what actually happened in past years shows it to be 98 per cent accurate. The model won the first prize at the Data Olympics at the 16th International Health Workforce Collaborative in the United States at the end of last year.
“A capable and well distributed supply of health professionals is crucial to delivering the health services that New Zealanders need, and supports the delivery of the Government’s health targets and key health priorities.
“As we move to a more integrated healthcare system with more services provided in the community, we need a flexible workforce which fully utilises the skills of professionals such as nurses and pharmacists.”
More reliable workforce modelling fits into a wider plan to help future proof our health workforce.
Recent legislation will over time help enable some health professionals to widen their scope of practice. For example, suitably qualified registered nurses will soon be able to issue sick leave certificates.
Optometrists are another example, with more than 40 now able to prescribe the appropriate treatment for glaucoma.
Through a programme at the University of Auckland nurses with substantial experience in gastroenterology are now being trained to perform endoscopies. These highly capable nurses are now being trained to the same standards as gastroenterologists and surgeons.
The new modelling system is detailed in the HWNZ 2015-16 annual report, which is available on the Ministry of Health website, www.health.govt.nz