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Rural GP shortage over festive season

Rural GP shortage over festive season

Tuesday 14 Dec 2004

Heather Roy - Press Releases - Health

Holidaymakers should heed the General Practitioners Council's warning that there will be a shortage of doctors in popular rural holiday spots this summer, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"There has been an ongoing shortage of GPs for several years, especially in rural areas. Rural practices have had to rely on casual and short-term staff who are unwilling to work over the festive season," Mrs Roy said.

"People not in the position of the late Elvis Presley, who took his own doctor when he travelled, should consult their family GP before leaving home, then hope they stay well on holiday.

"The average age of the rural GP is now around 55 years old, with newly-qualified doctors not finding general practice an attractive option because of the heavy workload, onerous after-hours commitment, and average salaries now below $90,000, despite at least 10 years training.

"Health Minister Annette King's Primary Health Organisations have only made this situation worse with capitated funding.

"The small Otago town of Waihola has the measure of the problem. At both ends of town are signs warning people not to speed. They say `no doctor, no hospital, one cemetery'. Unfortunately, this is also a reflection on Labour's health system," Mrs Roy said.


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