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Rural Health Crisis Needs Solutions Now

16 May 2002

Rural doctors are walking away from their practices and the domino effect is creating a crisis in rural health, National Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"The Rural Expert Advisory Group to the Ministry of Health have developed a comprehensive plan but the Minister continues to sit on her hands.

"Annette King is putting all the primary care funding into her new ideologically driven Primary Healthcare Organisations and effectively giving GPs no option but to be part of them. I will take a bet that the South Island, which is seriously short of rural GPs, will see very little new money in the establishment of PHOs.

"The Rural Advisory Group want comprehensive action now, not more major restructuring of the way primary care is delivered. Doctors do not want to be forced to join PHO's so they can get a funding increase.

"We need a comprehensive, not a piecemeal approach to improve rural services.

"We need practical solutions like the rural GP locum scheme developed by National in 1999 which was a response to the sectors' needs. Australia has taken the needs of its rural population seriously with a comprehensive plan of action, but our Minister has done nothing to solve any of these problems in three years.

"The rural GP crisis needs action now, not just talk," Dr Scott said.


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