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O'Connor hails rural funding accord

O'Connor hails rural funding accord

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor is pleased Southland rural GPs have reached agreement with their district health board over the distribution of rural retention funding.

Mr. O'Connor said he had asked the GPs and the DHB to have further talks when it became clear that both parties were some distance apart over the best use of the funding.

He said health professionals in rural areas were under great stress.

"Government made the funding available to assist the rural health sector and we wanted the rural GPs to feel good about it."

Mr. O'Connor said he wished to praise the efforts of all involved in coming to an agreement, and particularly Southland District Health Board chairman Dennis Cairns, for his efforts in reaching a solution that met both the requirements of the board and the needs of the rural GPs.

Earlier this year, the Government announced the funding - $32 million nationwide over the next three years - aimed at helping rural areas attract and retain a skilled primary health care workforce. Part of this funding is for the flexible retention fund to support and retain the primary health care team in rural areas.

DHBs have the task of determining the best allocation of the funding. This is to address immediate issues in retaining rural GPs and nurses providing first level services.

"There have been different approaches taken by different DHBs across the country depending on the particular retention issues in their district but the important thing is that decisions are made locally over the best use of the resource," Mr O'Connor said.

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