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More GPs for rural communities

More GPs for rural communities

Three New Zealand towns are the first to benefit from government funding aimed at attracting general practitioners to rural communities.

The funding of $1.9 million was announced in January, and has enabled NZLocums, the recruitment arm of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, to make long-term and permanent placements in areas of greatest need.

Dr Heidi Mayer, BMBS, from the UK, has joined the Pah Street practice in Motueka; Dr Joe McGowan, BMBS, from South Africa, brings 35 years’ experience to the Bush Trust Medical Centre, Pahiatua, and Dr Komal Patel, MB ChB, MRCGP, DRCOG, also from the UK, begins at the Wairoa Medical Centre in early June.

Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor said the new appointments would make a huge difference to the health and well-being of these rural communities.

“Towns throughout New Zealand are facing a shortage of GPs who, together with rural nurses, are often working very long hours to meet heavy caseloads and demanding on-call commitments. It's difficult, and at times impossible, for communities or general practices to recruit on their own.”

Dr Tim Malloy, Chair of the Rural General Practice Network, which manages the rural locum recruitment contract, said the Network was delighted to have made these initial placements so early on in the process, given that there were usually considerable time delays between foreign GPs' registration of interest and their ability to begin work.

“The Network received the funding during January, extensively canvassed rural general practices nationwide to determine need, and recently put in place a marketing campaign aimed at meeting that need.

“We know from the initial response to our activities that we can look forward to a surge in long-term placements later this year. Plus, our advertising has already attracted two New Zealanders back from overseas wanting to work as long-term rural locums and generated applications from New Zealand general practitioners in the position to help out their rural colleagues in the short-term.” has more information on the rural recruitment service and lists current vacancies.

Background information

About NZLocums

NZLocums is New Zealand’s only nationwide rural locum and long-term placement recruitment scheme for rural general practices. It is managed by the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network Inc (the Network). Funding for these two contracts comes from government. The first – to place general practitioner locums in rural general practices – was awarded to the Network in late 2002. A second contract, this time for long-term or permanent placements, was awarded during 2003, with detail and funding finalised in January 2004. This contract also includes the recruitment of nurse practitioners to work in rural general practices.

Having gained this contract and associated funding, NZLocums canvassed all rural general practices to determine their recruitment needs and developed a profile on each practice. This information formed the basis of a marketing campaign, including the revamped

The NZLocums service is free to both New Zealand rural general practices and applicants. Locums are contracted to the Network, which guarantees minimum income, provides orientation, co-ordinates the required medical supervision and assists with applicants gaining New Zealand medical registration and New Zealand work visas. With permanent placements NZLocums is tasked with sourcing suitable candidates and, referring these directly to a practice. All negotiations related to actual employment are made directly between the practice and the candidate. Many general practitioners prefer to ‘trial’ practices, prior to making a long-term commitment and NZLocums is able to provide opportunities for this to occur.

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