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Road to ruin for GP workforce

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

19 June 2006

Road to ruin for GP workforce

Kiwis could end up waiting for several days just to see a GP if the Government doesn't do more to recruit and retain family doctors, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"Even worse, they may not even get onto a doctor's books."

Mr Ryall is commenting on a Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners report, which warns that increased support from the Government is essential to attract and retain rural GPs.

Mr Ryall is visiting Kapiti Coast today, where several hundred people are unable to enrol with a local GP because of a major shortage in the area.

"Labour is still all talk and no action.

"After seven long years, they have run out of ideas in health. They've had their turn, and it's time for a change.

"Mr Hodgson has New Zealand on the road to ruin when it comes to family doctor services.

"At this rate we're going to end up like Britain, where patients wait days and days just to get an appointment with a GP. It is Tony Blair's dream for British patients to see a GP within two to three days. Do we want it to come to that here?

"The Government is undermining the value and confidence of general practice. The attack on GPs' freedom to set their own fees, the growing wave of bureaucracy, and the anti-GP flavour of the primary health care strategy all show Labour's true agenda."

At a medical education conference in Rotorua last month, Mr Ryall set out National's plans to boost GP training.

"National will work with medical schools to boost training numbers, and significantly expand the amount of on-the-job experience trainee doctors get in rural and provincial areas. We will also encourage DHBs to offer student loan write-offs to those graduates who work in hard-to-staff areas. Lower taxes will also make general practice more attractive.

"Most importantly, we will show through our actions that we genuinely value the input general practitioners can make to our goal of improved health services," says Mr Ryall.


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