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National commits to rural health services

Don Brash MP
National Party Leader

2 September 2005

National commits to rural health services

National is committed to supporting health services in hard-to-staff rural and provincial regions because we believe every New Zealander should have access to high quality health services, National Party Leader Don Brash said today in launching the party’s policy for the training and retention of rural and provincial health professionals.

“National proposes two key measures to support the training and retention of doctors and specialist health professionals in provincial areas:

1. ‘You Stay, We Pay’ student loan write-offs for health professionals in designated hard-to-staff areas.

2. Establishing full postgraduate training programmes for rural house surgeons and rural hospital generalists.


“The ‘You Stay, We Pay’ initiative recognises that some provincial and rural regions have difficulty attracting and retaining New Zealand-trained doctors and specialised health professionals,” says Dr Brash.

“National will write off 10% of the balance of a student loan for each year a doctor or specialised health professional with a student loan spends in a designated hard-to-staff provincial or rural area. This will be funded through an employment benefit paid by the DHB or community hospital operator and would initially be restricted to 100 people per year, with a maximum write off of $10,000 per person per year.

“Primary care services taken for granted in the cities are often fragile in rural areas. Currently, there are inadequate training pathways available for postgraduate training in rural medicine. A specific postgraduate programme for rural training will benefit regional communities through improved recruitment of medical practitioners.

“National will create a rural general practice postgraduate programme with an intake of up to 38 registrars per year, and create a rural hospital generalists training programme with an intake of up to 12 registrars per year. This will have a set-up cost of $3 million and initial operating costs of $2 million, rising to $9 million in year three. We will also investigate the development of a rural medical undergraduate programme.

“With the right incentives and support, rural and provincial areas can provide independent and satisfying professional opportunities and good services,” says Dr Brash.

ENDS

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