According to startling new data out of New Zealand, planning for the retention and recruitment of the primary healthcare workforce is not just an American issue.
In New Zealand, a higher-than-average patient-to-doctor ratio and an unusually large proportion of rural residents is leading to crisis levels.
Now, New Zealand medical officials are coming out with advice for recruiters and HR professionals, urging the healthcare staffing industry to re-think how they advertise and fill positions.
A new survey, conducted by the Pinnacle General Practice Network in New Zealand, studied the staffing levels of general practice nurses and doctors. The study says staff shortages and the wrong type of working environment could severely hamper the delivery of primary healthcare within the next decade or two.
Officials there are recommending training healthcare professionals to deliver specific services most needed in a primary healthcare setting, potentially bridging the divide.
“This is something the previous and current generation of New Zealanders have always had access to, with general practice and community-based nursing services in both rural and urban settings,” said Pinnacle Chair Dr. Frank Cullen, in a release.
“Failure to address these issues will have a major impact on health service access for individuals as well as major economic consequences for the entire health system in New Zealand,” he said.
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As with healthcare staffing in the United States, the New Zealand report says the ratio of patients to doctors and general practice nurses will skyrocket as the baby boomer generation ages and their medical needs increase, at the same time that many of the current service providers are expected to retire.
Adding to their worries, New Zealand officials worry that local doctors may be lured overseas to alleviate the situation elsewhere.
To make matters worse, as the baby boomer retirement wave hits worldwide, New Zealand officials say they fear a shortage of talented overseas staff to fill staffing voids.
Typically, the country relies on healthcare workers from the United Kingdom and South Africa. But now, New Zealand no longer recognizes South African medical qualifications.