web analytics

What’s up, Doc?

Written By: - Date published: 11:37 am, March 31st, 2008 - 19 comments
Categories: health, Media - Tags: ,

There have been a number of stories recently about the number of doctors heading overseas but they are usually sensationalist and lack context. The most important questions are how many doctors do we have working in New Zealand, and how does that relate to the size of the population? Fortunately, the Medical Council produces an annual report on the number of active doctors. And, guess what? The number of doctors working in New Zealand is not only increasing, it is far outstripping population growth.


Would it be great to have more doctors, retain more New Zealand-trained doctors, and pay doctors more? Yes, yes, and yes.

Does the fact some New Zealand doctors are heading overseas mean we’re running out? Doesn’t look like it.

19 comments on “What’s up, Doc? ”

  1. STC 1

    Why is the red line portrayed more dramatically than it really is?

  2. Tane 2

    STC, basically because it looks cool. It’s not a party political thing – the Nats have quite a good record on active doctor numbers too.

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    The ratio of people per doctor has fallen 35% in 16 years, that’s a good news story in my book.

  4. Chemist Peter 4

    What is the quality of doctors like compared to 10 years ago, I bet it is lower. Numbers do not telll the whole story.
    Is this primary doctors suc as in hospitals, GP etc.

    Also, does this figure include doctors that offer services such as Botox etc as this would skew the figures. These have increased a lot in the past 10 years or so.

  5. Christopher 5

    Tane: while the red line may look cool, it is very deceptive. The right axis should begin at 0, just as the left one does. It makes it easier to gauge the true proportion of the decrease.

  6. that is hilarious.
    the fact that it’s so surprising is a real tribute to the tragedy of our msm.

  7. Steve Pierson 7

    Chemist Peter. Assuming doctors have got worse over the last 16 years is stupid and basless. I though you were a scientist, you should know you need evidence.

    About the scale for the red line – you don’t always need a scale to go to zero, especially if a) it can never realistically approach zero and b) you’re trying to show variation over time more than the size of the specific value at any point. But graphing is a bit of an art and it is open to deceptive tricks, of which mucking around with scales is one of the oldest in the book.

  8. dave 8

    Steve nice kneecapped graph which you made up . Is it correct that nearly 2000 New Zealand trained doctors don’t have practising certificates, and that the numbers of GPs in 2006 is below the number in 2000.

  9. Wow the kiwiblog right are really at it today. It is a graph, how ever wide and how ever tall you make it, it says EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Sure if DPF was posting this he would, for some unknown reason of course, accidently have the graph come up at twice the width of everything else on the page, and i’ll get around to fixing that up later, very busy right now.

    How whats your comment about the numbers? (ya know not shooting the messenger and all that?)

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    dave, maybe Steve can do a better job kin explaining this, he’s the graph whizz and all, but for what it’s worth: the black bar is higher above the numbers ‘2006’ than it is over the numbers ‘2000’ so I think that means that there are more doctors in 2006. It is pretty hard to tell though eh, they don’t teach graph reading in kindy like they used to.

    Have you got any form of substantiative rational discourse to add, especially regarding your claim about doctors without practicing certificates, or did you just hear that from your mate at the local? I’m going to assume the latter.

  11. Steve Pierson 11

    dave. the source figures are here http://www.mcnz.org.nz/Publications/Statistics/tabid/83/Default.aspx you have no grounds to say I made them up.

    Note, there is a step change in 2000 due to a change in reporting practice, but the pattern is clear – numbers are growing faster than the general population.

  12. Matthew Pilott 12

    Told you he’d do a better job than I at explaining it.

    Steve – technically, was I right? the bit about one black bar being higher than another black bar meaning that there were more doctors?

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    P.S there’s an extra “.” at the end of that link steve. It’s


  14. Steve Pierson 14

    yup. higher black bar = more active doctors

    lower red line = fewer people per doctor – ie more doctors as a portion of the population.

  15. randal 15

    look just redo the graph willya…stationary dave would love to sell more paper if everybody prints it out twice…he’s not fussy about the truth either if it comes down to selling paper!

  16. dave 16


    Good to see you`re finally out of bed. I was with my mate at the local and we were chatting about this just before you got out of bed. Ironically enough he had the report that Steve linked to and on that report on page 5 it said that there were 3166 GPs in 2000 and 3106 in 2006.

    When I went to school 3166 was a higher number than 3106. Even today 31656 is a higher number than 3106. That means there were more GPs in 2000 than there are in 2006.

    Funnily nenough he also had the 2006 NZMC annual report. THat report says that nearly 2000 New Zealand trained doctors don’t have practising certificates.

    Which is what I said. Now, back to bed, Matthew.

  17. dave 17

    Oh an another thing you forgot to mention Steve, You never advised how many hours an “active doctor” has to be employed to be classed as an active doctor and categorised in your graph.

    I`ll give you a clue: its less than 5 hours per week.

  18. Dean 18


    “About the scale for the red line – you don’t always need a scale to go to zero, especially if a) it can never realistically approach zero and b) you’re trying to show variation over time more than the size of the specific value at any point.”

    or c) you’re no better than the people you like to rally againt.

    By the way, I never did see you admit you screwed up with your assertions when you posted that OECD tax graph. Perhaps now is the time to come clean?

    Or do you just want to be regarded as a hack? Your choice.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Environment Court Judge appointed
    Prudence Steven QC, barrister of Christchurch has been appointed as an Environment Judge and District Court Judge to serve in Christchurch, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Ms Steven has been a barrister sole since 2008, practising in resource management and local government / public law.    She was appointed a Queen’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Government moves on climate promises
    The Government is delivering on its first tranche of election promises to take action on climate change with a raft of measures that will help meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon neutral target, create new jobs and boost innovation. “This will be an ongoing area of action but we are moving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Jump starting research careers
    The Government is investing up to $10 million to support 30 of the country’s top early-career researchers to develop their research skills. “The pandemic has had widespread impacts across the science system, including the research workforce. After completing their PhD, researchers often travel overseas to gain experience but in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Project protects jobs and nature
    A Waitomo-based Jobs for Nature project will keep up to ten people employed in the village as the tourism sector recovers post Covid-19 Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “This $500,000 project will save ten local jobs by deploying workers from Discover Waitomo into nature-based jobs. They will be undertaking local ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Minister Shaw speaks with U.S. Presidential Envoy John Kerry
    Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw spoke yesterday with President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. “I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Kerry this morning about the urgency with which our governments must confront the climate emergency. I am grateful to him and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today announced three diplomatic appointments: Alana Hudson as Ambassador to Poland John Riley as Consul-General to Hong Kong Stephen Wong as Consul-General to Shanghai   Poland “New Zealand’s relationship with Poland is built on enduring personal, economic and historical connections. Poland is also an important ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Major redevelopment of Wainuiomata High School underway
    Work begins today at Wainuiomata High School to ensure buildings and teaching spaces are fit for purpose, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. The Minister joined principal Janette Melrose and board chair Lynda Koia to kick off demolition for the project, which is worth close to $40 million, as the site ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New expert group appointed to advise Government on Oranga Tamariki
    A skilled and experienced group of people have been named as the newly established Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board by Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis today. The Board will provide independent advice and assurance to the Minister for Children across three key areas of Oranga Tamariki: relationships with families, whānau, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • COVID-19 vaccine slated for possible approval next week
    The green light for New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be granted in just over a week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. “We’re making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we’re also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective,” Jacinda Ardern said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New ACC Board members announced.
    The Minister for ACC is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February 2021. “All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Bella Takiari-Brame from Hamilton ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Economic boost for Southland marae
    The Government is investing $9 million to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs, Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene have announced.  The grant for Waihōpai Rūnaka Inc to make improvements to Murihiku Marae comes from the $3 billion set ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
    Upscaling work already underway to restore two iconic ecosystems will deliver jobs and a lasting legacy, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.  “The Jobs for Nature programme provides $1.25 billion over four years to offer employment opportunities for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 recession. “Two new projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago