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Concerns over GP shortage falling on deaf ears

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

15 August 2006

Concerns over GP shortage falling on deaf ears

National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall, is concerned the number of provincial towns with a critical shortage of GPs is growing and the Government is not listening.

"Each week we hear reports of more provincial towns losing GPs, and each time it's a warning to Labour that New Zealand is facing a GP crisis," says Mr Ryall.

"Still Health Minister Pete Hodgson denies there is a GP shortage, claiming it is a beat-up by Opposition MPs.

"But the problem is very real in places like Levin, Kapiti Coast, Timaru, Gisborne, Waimate and now Huntly. The number of provincial towns where GP services are incredibly stretched is growing.

"The Government must start listening to communities and health professionals alarmed by this.

"Labour is demonstrating third-term arrogance in the extreme with their denial that there is a problem.

"Mr Hodgson only needs to look at his own official figures to see how big a problem this is - the number of GPs has fallen since 1999.

"We need more GPs if we are to provide a modern primary healthcare service. But first the Health Minister needs to admit there is even a problem.

"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."

ENDS

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