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GP Crisis Not Confined To Rural Localities

Wednesday 29 May 2002

"While the provisions of rural health services are in crisis with a serious shortage of doctors in the Waikato, King Country, Manawatu, Canterbury and Southland, the problem is widespread and often just as severe in urban localities," says Ken Shirley, ACT New Zealand spokesman on Health.

"The average age of GPs has been increasing for a number of years and as the older ones retire they are not being replaced.

"Many GPs are unable to sell their practices as viable going concerns and very few young doctors starting out find general practice an attractive proposition.

"The incomes for GPs have effectively been frozen by successive governments while government regulations and compliance costs continue to erode their incomes and frustrate their delivery of quality primary health services.

"General practitioners have now effectively totally exited obstetrics and very few are opting for this specialisation in our medical schools. The demise of GPs practicing obstetrics has been brought about directly by state intervention inspired by "politically correct" agendas. These have had the effect of systematically eroding the GPs role and value.

"On top of the escalating compliance costs GPs now face the anxiety and uncertainty associated with the government structural upheavals and new directions for primary health care.

"Under the new model many fear that they will become mere salaried state servants managed by either union controlled or iwi controlled primary health organisations.

"The strength of the general practitioner system for many decades has been based on the provision of professional services by private business. The progressive intrusion of the state now threatens to strangle the last breath of air from general practitioners," concluded Mr Shirley.


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