Medical Council News - October 2020


Tēnā tatou!

Nau mai ki tēnei pūrongo ō te Kaunihera Rata ō Aotearoa – welcome to this edition of the Medical Council News.

We are now in the final quarter of what has been an extremely challenging and unpredictable year for the medical workforce as part of the health and nationwide efforts to contain COVID-19. While the pandemic is far from over, I would like to first and foremost acknowledge the medical profession’s ongoing commitment and dedication to patient care during these uncertain and difficult times. 

COVID-19 pandemic

Towards the end of September, Council, together with our partners Te ORA, released an independent report outlining findings on the current state of cultural safety and health equity in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Based on the experiences of Māori patients, the report highlighted some of the major barriers throughout our health system to achieving equitable healthcare for Māori. These issues are sector-wide and span many areas of healthcare, from clinical practice through to health sector governance and leadership. Some of the key findings include:

  • a poor understanding of the importance of patient culture, beliefs and values in clinical practice
  • a low representation of Māori in health sector governance and decision-making
  • persistently low numbers of Māori doctors compared to population size
  • a lack of recognition of the additional demands Māori doctors experience on top of their work – known as cultural loading.

On a positive note, the Report notes:

  • that many doctors are increasingly aware of the wider socio-economic determinants on health outcomes of individuals and populations.
  • the excellent work medical schools are doing in selecting, training and supporting the next generation of doctors to be culturally safe.
  • the progress that specialist Colleges are making in recognising health equity and cultural safety as key issues (but also the ongoing challenges of embedding these into training and recertification activities).

As Council and Te ORA consider the important recommendations in the report, we need to emphasise that it will take collective action – across the whole health sector – to achieve cultural safety and health equity. We will continue to work with the profession and other key stakeholders, and the systems we work within, to achieve this most important of goals.

Our guidance for doctors – including our Statement on Cultural Safety and He Ara Hauora Māori: A Pathway to Māori Health Equity – are the nest steps this journey for the medical profession.

Also in this issue:

  • New Statement of Unprofessional behaviour: The new statement covers the behaviours expected of medical professionals, not just with colleagues and patients, but also in non-work settings.
  • Congratulations to Dr Rhys Jones: for being awarded the Prime Minister's Supreme Award for Teaching Excellence.
  • Recollections from Dr John Hillock: Dr Hillock reflects on his 20 years of service with Council and how things have changed in that time.
  • Council's annual workforce survey results now available: Diagnostic radiology, urgent care and emergency medicine are the fastest growing specialities in the medical workforce, according to the Council’s Workforce Survey 2019 results.
  • Choosing Wisely presentation on COVID-19 learnings: The special presentation, Addressing Overuse in the ‘New Normal’, highlights how health care systems and providers are rapidly learning and changing in response to COVID-19.

Please click on the link below to read the newsletter:

Medical Council News - October 2020

Noho ora mai

Dr Curtis Walker
Medical Council of New Zealand