New Zealand: a problem with some imported doctors

An immigrant doctor is fined over US$200,000 and struck off.  NZ has to recruit better doctors from somewhere.

According to NZPA, "Hamilton general practitioner Suresh Vatsyayann has been struck off the medical register and ordered to pay (NZ) $256,000 in costs, the highest amount ever handed down by the Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal.  The doctor, who was earlier this month found guilty of professional misconduct for signing up dead people to his practice and letting his wife carry out procedures she was not qualified to do, was also censured, the Waikato Times reported.  Dr Vatsyayann, who has been on a hunger strike protesting his innocence and demanding an independent commission of inquiry into his case, did not attend today's penalty hearing in Hamilton."  Hamilton, in the Waikato south of Auckland, is New Zealand's fourth largest city with a population of around 204,000.

Voxy News reported in September 2010 that a "midwife has been censured and fined for professional misconduct for practising without a certificate.  Nicola Tolland, who trained as a midwife in Scotland, appeared this month before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal to face charges of working without a practising certificate and acting unprofessionally between July 2008 and April 2009.  In addition to being ordered to pay a (NZ) $500 fine and about (NZ) $4,000 towards the prosecution's costs, Ms Tolland was ordered to practise under professional supervision for the next three years."  Tolland works in the Whangaparaoa district just north of Auckland.

This is not an epidemic. Yet these are not isolated cases.  

New Zealand trains numerous doctors and medics, but so many jump on planes and head across the "Ditch" for Australia in search of higher salaries.  This is partly to help them pay off student debt, it seems.  It's also a problem of Australian hospitals on a consistent recruitment drive in New Zealand.  So, New Zealand hires medical practitioners itself, either from countries with lower wage levels like India (Suresh Vatsyayann hailed from Saddun in the Himalayan foothills, according to his own promotional blurb) or enticing people from elsewhere to enjoy the "Kiwi lifestyle".

It's always an uncomfortable feeling when a relatively rich country recruits from a poorer nation which has spent its limited resources training medical staff.  The UK hired nurses from Malawi, for example.  Perhaps highly competant doctors could be attracted from Thailand or the Czech Republic to New Zealand.  However, these people will most likely have language difficulties.  Scotland and India are English-speaking (assuming all medical training in the sub-Continent is conducted in English).  Vatsyayann claims to be a graduate of Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

Really excellent English-speaking Ghanaian doctors work in London. There are two notable medical colleges in Ghana, one in Accra and another in Kumasi.  The University of Ghana Medical School in the capital sits next to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.  A 2001 study on the University of Ghana Medical School by the World Health Organisation in 2001 stated: "There was an average exit rate of 13.8% of each class per annum. This means 50% and 75% of each batch of graduates emigrate in 4.5 and 9.5 years, respectively. Some 60.9% of doctors produced between 1985 and 1994 had already left the country, mainly to the United Kingdom and USA".  According to Migration Information Source, there were some 300 Ghanaian-trained doctors working in the UK as of May 2003.

Perhaps Ghana would be a good place for New Zealand to recruit from?


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