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Medical student debt shrinks GP pool by 8%

Media Statement
For immediate release
Thursday, 31 March 2005

Medical student debt shrinks GP pool by 8%

The Government is being deliberately blind to the “lose, lose, lose” situation that young doctors’ student debt is having on them, the profession and the nation, with GP numbers having fallen eight percent since 1992, United Future deputy leader Judy Turner said in Parliament today.

In tackling Education Minister David Benson-Pope, she said it was now being consistently reported that young doctors’ debt levels are leading to them avoiding general practice and poorer paying specialties such as psychiatry.

“And the result is an eight percent shrinkage in the nation’s pool of general practitioners since 1992. The numbers are down from 2917 to 2594 - that’s 320 doctors not there.

“I challenge the Government to tell us who benefits from that?” Mrs Turner said. “It certainly isn’t the medical graduate wanting a full range of career options; it’s not the profession which is under pressure, and it certainly isn’t average New Zealander with fewer GPs to meet their needs.

“Unfortunately the Government is refusing to hear, let alone, address this matter,” she said.

United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy also challenged Mr Benson-Pope to reconcile his previous statements minimising the impact student debt has on medical graduates heading overseas in light of a Medical Association study showing 48 percent of them left specifically because of their debt levels.

Ends.

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