GP Practices Buckling In Covid-19 Aftermath
A survey of GP practices carried out by University of Auckland researchers indicates that many feel unsupported by the Government with a significant proportion worried about their future financial viability in the aftermath of Covid-19.
Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith said, “The whole country has been under stress, but we wanted to know how general practices were coping. The respondents said that dealing with Covid-19 restrictions over the lockdown period had delivered major blows across the board from staffing, financial viability and last but not least, patient care.”
Professor Goodyear-Smith said, “There has been a large decrease in patient being seen and visits for chronic care (84 percent) and doctors uniformly feel they have not been able to address preventive needs for patients.”
A significant proportion, 21 per cent were not sure if they had the financial reserves to stay open faced with far fewer patient visits and the shift to virtual consultations had been a struggle for 74 per cent of those surveyed. A selection of comments suggest GP practices feel they have not been recognised for their part in the fight against Covid-19.
“Really under supported and under recognized for primary health’s effort in managing the pandemic. Feels like DHBs got all the praise and $$, yet they saw very, very few actual cases.”
“Demoralising that funding for PHC was largely ignored, yet DHB’s could keep their consultants on full pay yet only working one in three weeks! Need guarantee from government that we will continue to be paid for the work we are doing managing this pandemic.”
“Primary care’s contribution to stopping the spread of COVID19 was not, and is not, being mentioned enough in media and government communications. And most importantly, in funds allocation. The hospitals won’t be (and haven’t been, COVID-wise) overwhelmed because of a more robust primary care sector.”
This is the first survey of an ongoing series that will be carried out every fortnight as a regular temperature check on the state of GP practices. The survey, conducted between the 23 and 29 May, covered a period that covered Level 3 and Level 2 restrictions. The survey is part of a global collaboration with the Larry Green Center, United States, the University of British Columbia, Canada and Australian National University.