The NZMA does a lot of work behind the scenes submitting submissions on important health issues. Photo / 123RF
Members of the New Zealand Medical Association are urged to prevent the 136-year-old institution from being liquidated.
The NZMA Board is recommending members vote to end the professional body as it faces financial difficulties due to declining support.
The council met on Thursday and unanimously agreed to recommend that members vote to wind up the association at its next annual general meeting, council chairman Dr Alistair Humphrey said in a statement. .
“The association’s financial situation is unsustainable,” he said.
“Two decades of stagnant membership and accumulating deficits have reached the point where we must dissolve or we will soon become insolvent and unable to meet our obligations to staff and creditors.”
Health commentator Ian Powell said it would leave a huge void because the NZMA has done a lot of work behind the scenes to comment on important health issues.
Powell said it came as a shock.
“It’s always had the potential to be a voice for the profession as a whole. And once that’s gone, it’s going to be very difficult to put something back in its place.
“That’s why I think if there had been a frank discussion something could have been done, but they just seem to have kind of given up.”
He said NZMA members should fight to save him.
“There are problems, but it doesn’t matter what branch of medicine you practice, where you work or how you are employed.
“If people believe voice is still important, I think it’s really vital that they start discussing it among themselves and develop some sort of bottom-up strategy on how they might approach it.”
Powell said if the NZMA failed it would leave a huge void.
Humphrey said the board had been trying to find ways to resolve the issues that NZMA was having.
“Serial NZMA’s boards and staff have made many attempts over the past few years to find a way to salvage the association – downsize, undertake a merger, increase revenue or cut costs somewhere,” said he declared.
Powell said he felt the organization had been floundering for years.
“Unfortunately, its elected leaders haven’t really taken notice of this reality and haven’t tried to do anything about it.
“However, it is a step backwards to lose the medical association, and I think in the circumstances, while there is no doubt that they are in a very vulnerable position, it was nonetheless premature.”
Humphrey said the NZMA was responsible for many medical assets for New Zealand.
“The NZMA is proud to have served the New Zealand medical community and the country as a whole since 1886.
“We are producers and custodians of several important assets that will need to be leveraged by other organizations – including the New Zealand Medical Journal, the Code of Ethics, the Benevolent Fund and New Zealand’s membership of the World Medical Association .
“We are in discussions with other organizations in the sector on how to pass on these assets and will share more in due course.”
The NZMA constitution requires that a winding up resolution be approved by the members at a general meeting and confirmed at a follow-up meeting.
A resolution will be presented to the membership on May 30, and if approved, there will then be another meeting at the end of June to confirm the decision.