Health Workforce Strategic Framework

The Health Workforce Strategic Framework: ensuring a health workforce to meet the future needs of people and whānau

The health workforce is an integral part of the health system. No health service can be delivered, no person cared for, no health outcome achieved, without people.

People are our greatest asset and the enabler to improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. Aotearoa New Zealand has a highly skilled and hardworking workforce, committed to providing the best level of care they can. 

However, engagement with the health sector has reinforced that our health workforce is under immense pressure.

Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora have developed the Health Workforce Plan 2023/24, which outlines the priority initiatives to address current health workforce challenges.

There is further work to be done to build a sustainable health workforce for the future.

As chief steward of the health system, Manatū Hauora sets the strategic direction for the workforce, to support health agencies to address long-standing workforce challenges. This includes setting the strategic policy direction for the workforce, determining funding priorities and ensuring we have the right legislation in place.

A change in approach is needed to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand’s workforce is valued and that it can deliver the health services our communities need now and in the future. The focus on pae ora (healthy futures) is driving a change in how health agencies approach workforce issues.

Changing demographics and technological change also require new approaches to the health workforce.

The Health Workforce Strategic Framework

Manatū Hauora | the Ministry of Health has developed the Health Workforce Strategic Framework to guide health system settings and ensure Aotearoa New Zealand has a sustainable, representative and responsive health workforce that can meet the future needs of people and whānau.

The strategic framework sets out the priority issues for Aotearoa’s health workforce, including the need to tackle structural and systemic barriers, which result in Māori being excluded from and/or prevented from achieving in the health sector. It also sets out the aspirations for the health workforce, however these will only be realised if the priority issues are addressed using a whole of system approach.

The strategic framework has been informed by engagement with the health sector in late 2022, which identified key health workforce challenges and opportunities for change. See The journey to the Health Workforce Strategic Framework for more information.

Manatū Hauora, Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora are undertaking a range of actions to support and grow New Zealand’s health workforce.

The Health Workforce Strategic Framework describes the overarching approach needed for the Government to tackle long-standing workforce challenges in the years ahead. It forms the basis for the development of a work programme to address these issues.

The strategic framework outlines five levers (policy areas) to deliver the changes needed: education and training; employment settings; commissioning of health services; investment across the health system; and legislation.

How the Health Workforce Strategic Framework will be used

Manatū Hauora works across the health sector to ensure the appropriate legislative and policy settings are in place to deliver better health outcomes for New Zealand. 

Establishing the strategic direction for the workforce will guide the system towards approaching workforce challenges in a way that supports us to achieve pae ora (healthy futures).

The strategic framework will also help provide assurance that future health strategies and workforce actions support the overall strategic direction for the workforce.

Workforce is a priority in the six Pae Ora | Healthy Futures Strategies, which set the direction for a system that is equitable, accessible, cohesive and people-centered, and which will improve the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.  

The Government Policy Statement for Health is also being developed which will determine the health system priorities for a 3-year period, including priorities for workforce development.

Next steps

Working with other agencies, such as Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora, Manatū Hauora will use the strategic framework to lead the development of policies aimed at addressing the issues faced by the health workforce.

This policy development will focus on three key areas:

  • reviewing how skills and capabilities are recognised and developed across the health workforce
  • exploring how investment can value and incentivise the skills and capabilities needed to improve health outcomes
  • reviewing processes in place that assure quality and safety, balanced with the flexibility needed to improve health outcomes.

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