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Doctor Shortage Not New

Doctor Shortage Not New

Heather Roy Monday, 12 December 2005 Press Releases - Health

Results of the College of General Practitioners' workforce survey should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the rising crisis of GP shortages in New Zealand, says ACT Health Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"Professional medical groups have been saying for many years that there is a worsening situation, with GP shortages prevalent in many rural areas, and this is now spreading to urban areas," Mrs Roy said.

"The urban GP practice I attend has decided to close its doors permanently because they are unable to attract doctors. Traditionally, urban practices have had fewer problems attracting medical staff. When even practices in middle class suburban areas are struggling, the Minister of Health cannot ignore the problem any longer without damaging family medicine permanently.

"The Ministry of Health has given up trying to solve workforce issues - instead they are placing greater emphasis on complimentary services such as Healthline. Healthline has its place, but it should not be seen as a replacement for face-to-face consultations for those who can no longer access a GP.

"Primary Health Organisations - Labours primary healthcare flagship - are failing to address the problems in primary health. Capitation funding provides the wrong incentives for medical practitioners and has created a huge increase in administrative demands on GPs who just want to treat their patients.

"It is little wonder that many GPs are reporting they want out and medical students rarely consider General Practice as a career option.

"It is time for Health Minister Pete Hodgson to tackle workforce issues head-on, instead of turning a previously well respected profession into a medical dinosaur," Mrs Roy said.


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