DHBs wait as med students punished

Possible delays getting this year’s final-year medical students from the University of Otago out working at district health boards around the country will not impact patient services or young doctors’ long-term training, a spokeswoman for the country’s DHBs says.

Otago has announced 53 students — one in five — will have delayed graduations after they were found not to have completed their attendance expectations for their overseas placements. Some also falsified paperwork.

However the university has suggested commitment to carry out additional work to students as a possible pathway to getting qualified registration from the Medical Council.

"Such work would be monitored by the Medical School and non-compliance reported to the New Zealand Medical Council.

"Additional educational actions will also be required, along with the requirement to make proportionate repayment of their training grant for the period when they were not in attendance at their placement."

Auckland District Health Board chief executive Ailsa Claire, national spokeswoman for all DHBs, said employment as a doctor-in-training or a house officer started at the completion of study and registration; she understood some students might be able to apply for registration without having graduated.

Even if there were delays to registration, the DHBs were taking "a pragmatic approach" and it did happen people sometimes had to start later than they thought. The health boards would be supporting the university to minimise the impact wherever possible.

"All of the students involved have been or will be attending paid orientation."

DHBs were waiting to see what would happen in the next couple of weeks, Dr Claire said.

An Otago spokeswoman was unable to say yesterday how many of the 53 students had so far accepted its package of consequences — the package included repaying grant funding for each week of holiday they took instead of attending their placements, writing a self-reflective essay, and agreeing to a programme of community service or research that would ensure time lost from the elective was made up.

A further announcement from the university on the situation of the students and the way forward is expected later this week.

The Medical Council also declined to comment yesterday.



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