TVNZ has apologised for a comment by presenter Paul Henry that overseas-trained doctors can't be as good as those trained in New Zealand.

The comment came on the Breakfast show after an interview with Ian Powell, executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists.

Following the interview on why Kiwi doctors move to Australia, Henry and co-host Pippa Wetzell continued discussing the subject.

Henry is heard saying: "Well, these immigrants can't be as good as our doctors."

Mr Powell contacted the programme and made an official complaint, saying Henry's comments were unfair to doctors trained outside New Zealand, but who worked hard in this country.

"Comments made by your co-presenter Paul Henry immediately after my interview - concerning overseas trained doctors in New Zealand - have caused some concern among senior doctors in public hospitals," Mr Powell said.

"Mr Henry's comments that these overseas trained doctors can't be as good as our doctors are unfair and incorrect ... it left an unfair impression in the viewers' minds."

TVNZ bosses have since been in touch with the organisation, apologising for the comments.

But they also noted that Henry had not been "fluent in his delivery" when trying to get his point across.

Breakfast editor Tony Davenport said: "I apologise for any offence caused by Paul's post-interview comments on August 9.

"If you join his comments in a single train of thought, what he was trying to ask - quite legitimately - was that if foreign-trained doctors were as good as NZ doctors, why didn't they beat the departing NZ doctors to many of those higher paying overseas jobs."

Mr Davenport went on to acknowledge that co-host Pippa Wetzell was the voice of reason, pointing out that there were various reasons for overseas-trained doctors heading to New Zealand.

"Unfortunately, Paul wasn't fluent in his delivery with a pregnant pause after "can't be as good as our doctors" and with both Paul and Pippa talking, Paul's point was probably lost on many viewers, although his conclusion that the issue was a complicated one seemed apt," Mr Davenport said.

"This was a spontaneous observation that missed the mark and we apologise for that."

Mr Powell said he was satisfied with the apology and pointed out that doctors trained overseas who then chose to work in New Zealand brought many benefits.

"The issue is not competence but rather increasing dependence," he said.

"We are not retaining enough of the doctors we train. It is not a reflection of the doctors we recruit internationally but the loss of doctors that we train."

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY
HENRY: Well, these immigrants can't be as good as our doctors...

WETZELL: Well...

HENRY: Or they would...

WETZELL: They haven't been trained in the same way.

HENRY: They would stay overseas wouldn't they? They would stay overseas...

WETZELL: Well...

HENRY: If there's an opportunity to make more money overseas.

WETZELL: Lifestyle choice for them to be here though.

HENRY: Yeah, yeah. Very complicated.