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GPs Optimistic About Realistic Plan For New Zealand’s Health Future

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners today commended the efficiencies, access to healthcare for all, and prominence and importance of equity that was outlined in today’s Health and Disability System Review announcement.

Dr Samantha Murton, President of the College said, "the majority of New Zealanders get their healthcare in the community and hearing the Minister outline the importance of that, and planning for access is vital."

The role of the College is to advocate for equity, access, and sustainable healthcare and we believe fundamentally that regardless of who or where they are, every New Zealander should have access to their own GP.

"Hearing about technological advancements and providing people access to community health care regardless of where they live in New Zealand is something we’ve strived for, particularly through our rural hospital networks, and something we achieved during COVID-19; we look forward to building on that now, says Dr Murton.

"General practice showed itself during 2020’s COVID-19 response to be a nimble, responsive workforce when we switched 1000 practices to a remote consultation module in two days.

"We’ve done it before and we’re ready to forge ahead, adapt, and bring even better access to health care in a faster, more efficient model that is supported by Government," she says.

Dr Bryan Betty, medical director of the College is also a working GP in Cannons Creek, Porirua and was hopeful that the new Māori Health Authority will truly bring more equitable, accessible healthcare for Māori.

"I see every day, through my patients, what health inequity means to our communities and it’s unfair and devastating, says Dr Betty.

"Health inequities run across services, across levels of care, and across the lives of indigenous people and having a drive to change and improve how we’re delivering care to Māori driven from the top is set to make a true and measurable difference and I feel very positive about that," he says.

One component missing from today’s review was any detail about the funding of general practice, which the College has been advocating for some time. New Zealand has a major shortage of GPs and the College’s recently Workforce Survey showed that GPs are also burnt out and working in inefficient systems.

Dr Murton said, "We are expecting to continue to work closely with Government to draw out the detail of this announcement to ensure strong general practice that is properly funded for the work we do, which will ensure our doctors can be healthy in their own work too.

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