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General Practice stands by subsidy commitment

General Practice stands by subsidy commitment

General Practitioners are committed to their patients receiving increased government subsidies, the New Zealand Medical Association says.

“General Practice has given this commitment, and past history shows these subsidies do get passed on, so why is the Government trying to control how GPs run their private businesses?” asked Dr Peter Foley, who chairs the NZMA’s General Practitioner Council.

In conjunction with the roll-out of increased subsidies for the 45-64 year age group, on 1 July, the Government is trying to impose fees control on General Practice, the vast majority of which is comprised of GP-owned practices.

The NZMA is committed to retaining the ability for General Practices to set their own fees, including charging co-payments where necessary. The GP Council is part of the GP Leaders’ Forum, which does not accept the Government’s proposals. The other GPLF member groups are the Royal New Zealand College of GPs, the Independent Practitioners Council of NZ, and the Rural GP Network.

“We need a strong and viable workforce to enable the very laudable aims of the Primary Health Care Strategy to be implemented. These aims include improved access to Primary Care, and we have always supported this,” Dr Foley said.

“Recent research about General Practice shows that it is an unattractive option for young medical graduates, and the workforce is ageing and in danger of burn-out.

“General Practices have variable costs. If fees are controlled then practices will become non-viable, GPs will continue to leave, and other health professionals may be affected. In the long-term New Zealanders may not continue to have access to affordable, effective General Practice care.”

“Public opinion surveys show that GPs are among the most respected and trusted professional occupational group. We provide reliable, high quality care and that should not be put at risk.

“The Ministry of Health’s own surveys show that General Practice has a sound track record in passing on subsidies, and we agree that the new subsidies should flow through to patients. We acknowledge that there may be a few instances of excess charging, but the Ministry’s approach is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” Dr Foley concluded.

ends

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