Response to Health Workforce New Zealand

Voluntary Bonding Scheme Review 2017 and the terms and conditions for the 2018 Voluntary Bonding Scheme

The College was invited to respond to Health Workforce New Zealand's Voluntary Bonding Scheme Review and the terms and conditions for the 2018 Voluntary Bonding Scheme . We responded on 3 August 2017.

Our response highlighted five key issues with the Voluntary Bonding Scheme:

  1. Poor alignment with the GPEP enrolment process in particular around the timing of the release of the terms and conditions. Currently trainees make their decisions on where they wish to train without the knowledge of which areas will be included in the scheme in their year.  They rely on the terms and conditions that applied in the year prior. This introduces an element of risk which diminishes the attraction, and hence effectiveness, of the financial incentive.
  2. Difficulty in targeting specific areas of shortage within DHBs.  The technique of excluding specific urban areas goes some way towards doing this but additional mechanisms are needed.
  3. Consideration of additional mechanisms to encourage equitable distribution of general practitioners targeted beyond the training years.
  4. The size of the financial incentive has not been increased since the programme began several years ago. The level of the financial incentive needs to be reassessed. Is it high enough to encourage GPs to train in hard-to-staff areas?  What mechanism should be used to ensure that it maintains an appropriate  value over time.
  5. The scheme is complex and difficult to understand, and hence difficult to publicise effectively. This is likely to have reduced the uptake of the scheme in the past although we note that uptake by those intending to be general practitioners has increased in recent years.
You can read our submission in full.