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Is shortage of GPs on West Coast greatest risk for the DHB?

Current shortage of GPs on the West Coast is the ‘greatest risk’ for the DHB?

Questions should be asked.

How is it that the current shortage of GPs on the West Coast is the ‘greatest risk’ for the DHB?, when the DHB and the Ministry of Health have, on more than one occasion been presented with the solution?

One might wonder how health services have been delivered to West Coasters over the last decade or so with so few GPs? By registered nurses is the answer – Highly educated and trained rural nurse specialists providing expert health services from Karamea to Haast. You wouldn’t know this from the latest story about GP shortages, which once again makes no mention of these critical primary health care nursing services; services that include dealing with emergencies ranging from motor vehicle accidents, to attending people falling off Glaciers, to domestic accidents.

It would appear the West Coast DHB is prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars recruiting GP locums from around the world, rather than look for a permanent solution that is right under their noses, Nurse Practitioners (NPs). Investing in the transition of registered nurses to Nurse Practitioners would ensure a safe permanent workforce of high level practitioners who have already demonstrated commitment and permanence in their community.

At a fraction of the cost of expensive locums, NPs could easily provide the a high standard of primary health care here in New Zealand. Despite the continuing rise in health care costs, and the constant call for innovation and change within our health services little real change happens.

The College of Nurses urge the Minister of Health and Health Workforce Chair to guide the West Coast DHB towards saving West Coasters ( and many other DHBs ) precious health dollars by looking at what NPs and rural nurse specialists can offer.

Information about the College of Nurses-
The College is a professional body of New Zealand Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners from all regions and specialties. It provides a voice for the nursing profession and professional commentary on issues which affect nurses, and also the health of the whole community. Its aim is to support excellence in clinical practice, research and education and to work with consumers to influence health policy. The College is committed to the Treaty of Waitangi and the improvement of Maori health. This commitment is reflected in the bicultural structure of the organisation.

The College of Nurses Vision is “100% Access, Zero Disparities in healthcare for all New Zealanders.


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