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Rural GP initiatives "don't go far enough"

The New Zealand Rural GP Network applauds any contribution to assist rural practice, but does not believe that the Government's rural GP initatives, announced yesterday, go far enough.

"It is less than comprehensive," said Rural GP Network Chair Dr Helen Kingston. "$3 million seems to us insufficient to provide the stated services in a consistent manner nationwide. Either the pie will be divided into very tiny pieces, or some will get a large slice and others none at all."

The Government did not discuss the details of this initiative with the Network, which is the only national organisation dedicated to representing rural general practitioners. Nor did it discuss it with the New Zealand Medical Association, which has close links to the Network.

"We do not have enough information on the specifics of the improvements to know where and how the help will be given," Dr Kingston said.

"We do not believe that the package will help the recruitment and retention of rural GPs nationwide, nor will it be enough to attract our young graduates back from Australia."

The announcement stated that a North Island Director for Rural Health will be appointed shortly. The position of South Island Director was announced eight months ago.

"We fail to understand why there has been such a long delay. This has been most frustrating for North Island rural GPs."

Dr Kingston said the Network was glad for those rural practices which would benefit from the initiatives, and urged the Minister and Ministry of Health to consult promptly with the Network on all matters relating to rural general practice.


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