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New PM must prioritise primary care

New PM must prioritise primary care, says Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners College President Dr Tim Malloy extends his congratulations to the Prime Minister-elect, Jacinda Ardern, on forming a new Government, as well as to the respective leaders of New Zealand First and the Green parties, Winston Peters and James Shaw.

“I congratulate the incoming Prime Minister on successfully forming a government with New Zealand First, supported by the Greens, and wish them the best as they take up office,” says Dr Malloy.

“Patient care was rightly a focus of the election campaign. We all heard too many stories from patients who find it challenging to pay for their GP appointments, and the inequity this creates.

“We saw widespread recognition of the shortfall in the number of GPs in New Zealand, with a quarter of GPs intending to retire within five years.

“Current GPs feel this pressure, with one in five GPs feeling burnt out and just a third feeling they have enough time to complete all their daily tasks. There is a risk that increased workload, without additional Government support, could accelerate some GPs’ retirement plans.

“The shortage of GPs is particularly acute in rural areas, which are increasingly dependent on international medical graduates. Patients are sometimes having to travel an hour for their appointment.”

During the election campaign, Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens all agreed with the College’s call for a review of how primary care is funded. The new governing parties also accepted the need to fund the training of additional GPs to address the workforce shortage.

“We call on our new Prime Minister and the new Government to prioritise primary care. They must act without delay to initiate the review of primary care funding, involve the College and sector representatives, and listen seriously to the voice of GPs,” says Dr Malloy.

“Prior to the election the Labour party committed to increasing the number of vocational training places for GPs from the current 180 up to 300. We now look forward to making this a reality. We are committed to working with the new Government so that our GPs can continue to deliver quality health care to all New Zealanders.”


Notes
1. Following the announcement of ministerial portfolios and the publication of the negotiating agreements with the respective parties, the College will publish its Briefing to the Incoming Minister.
2. Our annual workforce survey asks nearly 5,000 College members a range of questions, including their intention to retire and questions around burnout and time to complete daily tasks.
3. According to our 2016 workforce survey, 22% of respondents said they felt burnt-out and 36% said they felt they had enough time to complete all their daily tasks. According to our 2017 survey, 27% of respondents said they intended to retire within five years.
4. Labour’s policy on Reducing GP fees is at http://www.labour.org.nz/gp_fees.

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