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GP training review launched

Joint Media Release from the Ministry of Health and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

14 June 2006

GP training review launched

A review of GP training in New Zealand has been launched and part of the work will look at the number of GPs needed to meet future population demand.

The review, undertaken by the Clinical Training Agency and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, is expected to be completed by early next year in time for any changes to be implemented in 2008.

"There is a lot of debate about how many GPs are needed in New Zealand,'' says Tony Gibling, Manager of the Clinical Training Agency.

"This work will help us establish what the country's future needs are and enable us to plan effectively.''

Recent research from the College of GPs has identified future shortages that would impact the delivery of quality primary health care.

“The College believes urgent action is required to avoid a bleak future,” RNZCGP president Dr Jonathan Fox said.

The review will look at GP vocational training in New Zealand and overseas. It will include a literature review, focus groups involving current and past GP trainees, GP trainers, and GPs and building a model to forecast GP workforce numbers. An expert advisory group will be set up to consider the findings and assist the CTA in making recommendations to the Minister.

Tony Gibling said the review would also ensure the CTA was purchasing the most effective training for GPs and that it continued to meet Medical Council of New Zealand requirements under the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act.

Health Minister Pete Hodgson, who has made the health workforce one of his priorities for the 2006/07 year, recently released two reports on the medical workforce (The Medical Reference Group of the Health Workforce Advisory Committee and the Doctors in Training Roundtable reports).

Mr Hodgson said the reports found there was probably a case to increase the number of New Zealand medical school places and that although the quality of work training was good, junior doctors were not as work ready as they should be.

The Medical Council of New Zealand is conducting a parallel consultation to include general practice in the formal training curriculum. The College is training 24 junior doctors this year in rural general practice but focuses on registrar (trainee specialist) through to post-vocational registration (specialist GPs) education.

The CTA funds 54 full time equivalent GP registrar places for 2006. A further 55 GP trainees attend the weekly seminars series at their own cost. The seminars are aimed at preparing the additional trainees to sit the College’s Primary Membership Exam (Primex).


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