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Towards a sustainable and fit-for-purpose health workforce — lessons from New Zealand

This is a republished version of an article previously published in MJA Open

Reforms underway in New Zealand are designed to significantly increase workforce productivity

It is true that most ill and injured New Zealanders currently receive appropriate and timely health care, but viewed as a whole, and considering health outcomes in Maori and poorer urban and rural communities,1,2 the New Zealand health system is something of a “curate’s egg”. I suggest that the New Zealand health workforce is neither sustainable nor fit-for-purpose. This situation is largely a result of systemic issues, which are being addressed. Any perception of system inadequacy is exaggerated by New Zealanders’ high expectations for health care relative to the country’s small population and modest wealth (by OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] standards).

As is true for all OECD member nations, New Zealand is affected by a global mismatch of health service demand, supply and affordability.3