NZSA voices support for PAiA suggestion
Currently patients awaiting surgery are facing cancelled or delayed surgery due to a lack of anaesthetic technicians. We need to support all of our health professionals particularly nurses and anaesthetic technicians. A group of Pasifika anaesthetic doctors (PAiA) is highlighting that part of the solution to growing surgical waiting lists is to raise recruitment of local anaesthetic technicians.
PAiA – Pasifika Anaesthetists in Aotearoa – is a new organisation that represents the interests specifically of the Pasifika anaesthesia workforce – anaesthetists, anaesthetic technicians, nurses and trainees. Formed initially by a core of Pasifika anaesthetic doctors, PAiA has extended its support to Pasifika anaesthetic technicians and trainees at their request. PAiA is suggesting that suitable additional Māori and Pasifika trainees be added in order to “grow” the numbers of current trainees funded by the government. This would increase training numbers in New Zealand’s anaesthetic technician training programmes.
Māori and Pasifika anaesthetic technicians bring their own particular strengths and cultural understanding to the role when we look after a high proportion of people from these communities. The increasing of trainee numbers will also support the Government’s commitment to equity for communities like Māori and Pasifika allowing for similar numbers of anaesthetic technicians in proportion to their community. Currently over half the annual increase in workforce is provided by overseas immigrants who fulfil a vital role.
“Surely growing our own NZ anaesthetic technician workforce is the best answer to solving this surgical choke-point – and now is our opportunity” says PAiA President and Samoan chief, Satuala Dr Leinani Aiono-Le Tagaloa. “We need to strengthen workforce numbers in this vital role; and building local recruitment alongside international efforts will bolster long term planning.” She states, “it is also an opportunity to contribute to the building of a more equitable system that is representative of our population.”
There is support for this new idea to help solve the staffing crisis from the New Zealand Anaesthetic Technicians’ Society (NZATS) and the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists (NZSA).
NZSA President Dr Morgan Edwards says “every day in every hospital across New Zealand patients are having their surgery cancelled due to the lack of an anaesthetic technician. Anaesthetic technicians are highly skilled practitioners that work closely with Anaesthetists to provide safe anaesthesia care for patients having surgery and other procedures. NZSA supports any strategy to improve this critical workforce both in numbers and diversity to better reflect the society they are caring for”.
Northland, as an example, is an area that NZATS Chair and anaesthetic technician Matt Lawrence can see this strategy would offer positive benefits. “We have a particular area of need with high levels of sick NZ Māori with increased needs and high deprivation levels. We are short of anaesthetic technicians and are increasingly unable to recruit and retain enough through overseas recruitment.”
“We are all concerned about the current conditions and the impact this has on our patients. An increase in anaesthetic technician training numbers, with a focus on representation of Māori and Pasifika trainees, will benefit the workforce, contribute to a more equitable healthcare system, offer safer working conditions, and most importantly will benefit our patients” says Satuala.