The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) will be celebrating 30 years as a union on Thursday 27th June at Te Papa in Wellington with a special one-day anniversary conference.

The special one-day anniversary conference, entitled: Why a public health service is worth fighting for, marks three decades of representation and advocacy for patients as well as members, ASMS National President Professor Murray Barclay says.

“It’s really a cause for celebration that ASMS has been around for 30 years,” he says.

“We’ve managed to weather radical change in the health sector over the years, including the deeply flawed 1990s experiment with market-driven care and ongoing efforts to weaken the provision of publicly-funded health care that’s available to all on the basis of need.

“ASMS is more relevant now than at any time in its history. The health system is under unprecedented strain due to population growth, the aging population, inadequate funding, and the increasing complexity of patient demand.”

Professor Barclay noted that ASMS has been in the fortunate position of seeing its membership grow significantly in the past 30 years, to the point where it now represents an estimated 90% of the specialist population.

“Hospital doctors and dentists are a diverse group with a diverse set of opinions, but they remain in accord on the need for a strong union that advocates for the public system as well as their own terms and conditions.”

The conference is expected to be attended by 150 people including senior doctors and health sector leaders working in public health care. There is an impressive line-up of speakers.

Following Health Minister Dr David Clark’s address, Professor Martin McKee from London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will give the key-note talk. McKee, who has been outspoken against the austerity policies in the UK, will lead a panel discussion, which includes Medical Council chair Dr Curtis Walker.

Secretary General of the World Medical Association, Dr Otmar Kloiber and President of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Dr Samantha Murton will also lead panel discussions comprising a diverse range of medical professionals.

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