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Minister not listening to concerns over GP crisis

Hon Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

Jo Goodhew MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman (Rural Health)

7 August 2006

Minister not listening to concerns over GP crisis

Health Minister Pete Hodgson must start listening to communities and health professionals alarmed by the growing shortage of GPs, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

At Saturday’s Education and Research in Rural Health Conference at the Dunedin School of Medicine, Mr Hodgson again denied there was a shortage of GPs. He told those attending he was sick of hearing about the problem, which he claimed was a beat-up.

“Mr Hodgson is not listening. GP groups are united in their alarm at the growing workforce crisis. Patients in many parts of the country cannot find a GP with whom to register their family,” says Mr Ryall.

“The problem is very real in places like Levin, Kapiti Coast, Timaru, Gisborne, and Waimate. In many provincial towns GP services are incredibly stretched.

“Mr Hodgson’s failure to listen is irresponsible and third-term arrogance. No wonder presenters at the conference repeatedly mocked Mr Hodgson’s views,” says Mr Ryall, who attended much of the conference.

National’s Associate Health spokeswoman responsible for rural health, Jo Goodhew, says she was dismayed to hear the Minister focus his energies on complaining about Opposition politicians, instead of listening to those gathered at the conference who said there was a crisis.

“The attendees heard that overseas, immersion in rural general practice for both medical students and recently graduated doctors increases the likelihood that some of those doctors will seek a career in rural general practice. That’s a pointer for New Zealand,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“We need more GPs if we are to provide a modern primary healthcare service. National says we need to train more GPs, have a stronger focus on rural immersion, and cut taxes to encourage doctors to stay in New Zealand,” says Mr Ryall.

Official figures show the number of GPs has fallen since 1999.

ENDS

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