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General Practices Under Heavy Cost Pressures

Report Shows General Practices Under Heavy Cost Pressures

18 February 2002

Immediate release

Report shows general practices under heavy cost pressures

A report prepared for the Independent Practitioner Association Council of New Zealand (IPAC) reveals a cost and compliance burden on general practices that could require higher consultation fees and substantial reconfiguring in the way GPs manage their business. IPAC’s Chairman, Dr Paul McCormack, said the report provided hard facts behind the real threat to New Zealand’s strong reliance on GPs for primary health care. “The lynchpin of our primary health sector - the GP - is under pressures that require significant changes. “This report - released in an environment of falling GP numbers in rural areas, a brain drain of our young doctors overseas, an aging general practice workforce and general low GP morale - will have a wide-ranging impact.” “It is a real concern for us all that only 16% of current medical students indicate general practice is their career choice while we need at least 30% of our medical workforce in general practice.” “We are likely to see changes to consultation fees and general practice management. Additionally, the government will need to consider how it addresses the needs of patients to be able to access health care by way of the changes to the government’s patient consultation subsidy, as well as addressing compliance demands and other health policies. “The Deloitte report shows that running a general practice is under pressure from hefty government and other paperwork requirements which can take up to a third of a GPs time, and a government subsidy which doesn’t come anywhere near the real cost of consultations. Dr McCormack said that given the environment, the report provided a valuable “toolkit” for GPs to identify pressure points on their business, and to find ways of operating effectively. “It is likely that some GPs will use the report’s information to reduce their business costs - by reconfiguring their own workload, using nurses more often for patient contact, introducing appropriate patient fees for nurse consultations, and by increasing medical consultation fees. “Regrettably, the traditional model of a GP practice is no longer sustainable under current pressures. GPs are not primarily business-people, but they do need to be more business-like to gain sufficient reward from their investment in a general practice. “GP’s incomes can be improved by making changes to the way they run the business-side of their practices, but in the long run, the Government will have to consider the implications of, and for, its own policy,” Dr McCormack said. ends

IPAC is a national body representing 16 Independent Practitioner Associations (IPAs) which cover 772 community-based practices, attended by some 1,850 GPs and over 2,000 practice nurses with approximately 50,000 patient contacts per day. Each year it is estimated two and a half million New Zealanders seek health services and advice from these IPAC member practices.

Contact: IPAC Chair, Dr Paul McCormack - Mobile: 025 325801 IPAC Chief Executive, Mr Victor Klap - Mobile 021 512634

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