Meeting with the Minister of Health Hon Dr Shane Reti

19 June 2024
2.75 Min Read

By NZSAwebadmin
Meeting with the Minister of Health Hon Dr Shane RetiMain Image

NZSA President Dr Morgan Edwards, Immediate Past President Dr Sheila Hart and CEO Kylie McQuellin met with the Minister of Health Hon Dr Shane Reti on the 28th of May.

These meetings are an important part of the NZSA’s advocacy work. Meeting with the Minister of Health allows us to discuss pertinent issues affecting anaesthetists in Aotearoa, our suggestions for constructive change and how we can achieve these together.

It was a positive and engaging conversation with the Minister. We are grateful for his time and receptiveness to our suggestions.

Our Briefing for the Minister outlined the topics we broadly covered during our meeting. Below is a summary of the key topics discussed on the day.

Planned Care

Tackling the waitlists is a hotly discussed topic and priority for the government. In our meeting, we highlighted the valuable role anaesthetists can provide in helping to achieve the government’s aspirational goal: 95% of patients wait less than four months for surgery. We also expressed to the Minister our keenness to see more creative models considered as part of the approach to reduce elective wait times. With examples such as the Shared Decision Pathway clinic in Tauranga. As well as the separation of acute and planned care, with consideration of successful models of care across the motu.


Workforce challenges are another wide-reaching topic with many important factors. The specific areas of these that we discussed included:

  • Future anaesthesia workforce numbers are at risk if we do not address current restrictions or the inability to recruit anaesthetists. The current lack of job availability is leading new fellows to pursue vacancies overseas. To reduce this risk positions need to be available at the right time and at the right stage of an anaesthetist’s career.
  • The need to create new incentives to make it more attractive to work in rural and remote areas to address acute workforce shortages in these regions.
  • The importance of valuing our workforce and demonstrating so.

We expressed how the Government will find it challenging to deliver on its goals without making improvements towards valuing our healthcare workforce and making our public health system a great place to work. The Minister was receptive to understanding what approaches will help improve morale. We will continue to engage with the Minister on these workforce topics.

We also discussed the important role our private healthcare system has in alleviating the pressure on Aotearoa’s public system. Alongside opportunities where private healthcare could help the public system when it alone will struggle to achieve the Government’s goals. Such as providing more roles and increasing training – both of which have benefits and challenges that would have to be considered.

Assistants to the Anaesthetist

The government are well aware of the acute shortage this workforce is facing and is focussed on getting our assistant to the anaesthetist workforce trained and working.

We stressed the important role anaesthetic technicians have in the anaesthesia team, in ensuring patient safety, and improving efficiency. As well as insight on how the degree model and scope changes have the ability to help increase the opportunities available through this career pathway.

The NZSA will continue to engage with the Minister and Government to follow up on these areas discussed. We are keen to play a constructive role in developing our healthcare system for our members and improve health outcomes for our patients.