The Role of the Health Workforce New Zealand

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Developing the non-regulated (kaiāwhina) workforce

The non-regulated workforce consists of a wide range of occupations that are not regulated under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. This does not imply a lack of professional standards. Professional bodies, and a range of other legislative controls, provide a suitable framework for this workforce.
In 2013, the non-regulated workforce – excluding corporate and administrative staff – was estimated at 62,910 people (or 3.3% of the New Zealand workforce).9 HWNZ classifies this workforce under four groups: professionals, technicians, support workers and carers.10
The ‘professionals’ group includes health promotion officers, traditional Māori health practitioners, drug and alcohol counsellors, rehabilitation counsellors, other counsellors and welfare workers. This group makes up 15 percent of the non-regulated workforce.
‘Technicians’ represent 4 percent of the non-regulated workforce and include, for example, cardiac technicians and medical laboratory technicians.
‘Support workers’ are dental technicians, diversional therapists, kaiawhina hauora (Māori health assistants), community workers, disabilities services officers, family support workers and residential care officers. This group amounts to 15 percent of the non-regulated workforce.

Work areas for non-regulated roles include:


aged care

allied health

core health

dental support

intellectual, physical and sensory disability

health support

mental health

primary and secondary health care

public health

Whānau Ora

‘Carers’ are the largest group within the total non-regulated workforce (66% – about 41,000 people).11 They include:

aged or residential carers

dental assistants

hospital orderlies

nursing support workers

personal care assistants

therapy aides

child or youth residential care assistants.
The residential care sector was the largest employer of the carer workforce in 2013.
Carers are a critical workforce for the care of people with disabilities. The 2006 Disability Survey found that about 90,000 children and 570,000 adults in New Zealand reported having a disability. Most of these people lived in the community, including the 5 percent who lived in residential facilities. In 2012/13, approximately one in four people aged 85 years and over lived in aged residential care; the remainder were living in their own homes.12
The non-regulated workforce is a priority area for HWNZ, and we are working with Careerforce on a Health and Disability Kaiāwhina Worker Workforce Action Plan. This Plan will consider the shape and size of the non-regulated workforce that will be needed to meet demand five years from now. It incorporates new models of care and sets out the knowledge and skills that will be required to respond to these models. The Plan will also set out a career pathway for this workforce.
Careerforce, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Ministry of Health are also reviewing the Matauranga Māori qualification pathway, and establishing a Whānau Ora qualification pathway to realise the potential of the Whānau Ora workforce within the non-regulated workforce.

Increasing the number of targeted training opportunities

A key objective for HWNZ is to align education and training funding with professional areas that are in weak supply yet are critical to achieving government targets for health. Another important strategy is to strengthen the workforce that is essential to the delivery of future models of care. This involves a shift in focus towards the workforces that deliver care in primary settings.

General Practice Education Programme

An example of the focus on primary care is the General Practice Education Programme (GPEP). This Programme represents a change in the way GPs are trained, following a review undertaken by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) with the support of HWNZ and the MCNZ. During years two and three of their training, general practice registrars can now complete six months of training alongside a specialist registered in a scope of practice other than general practice. This is intended to strengthen the contribution that GPs can make to preventative health care and to reduce the number of acute admissions to hospitals. It is also expected to enhance the integration of primary and secondary health care.

Midwifery First Year of Practice programme

The Midwifery First Year of Practice (MFYP) programme is a national programme that provides a supportive and professional environment for graduate midwives. HWNZ contracts the New Zealand College of Midwives to deliver the programme.
From 2015, a strengthened MFYP will be delivered to ensure that New Zealand midwifery graduates continue to be well supported, safe, skilled and confident in their practice as they commence their careers.

Allied health, science and technical workforce review

In conjunction with members from the allied health, science and technical workforce and the health education sector, HWNZ has developed a multi-disciplinary education framework for the allied health, science and technical workforce. Professional groups whose qualifications include similar basic elements of education and training will be invited to participate in a joint initiative with tertiary education institutions to implement the framework during 2014/15.
The framework is expected to provide clear pathways for allied health, science and technical professionals who want to transition from one profession to another. Under the framework, students will study core subjects that are common to several qualifications and then undertake specialist subjects for their particular qualification. This means that, if they want to retrain in a related profession, they will not have to complete an entire alternative degree.

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