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Urgent Investment Needed To Boost General Practice Workforce

General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ) is backing calls for urgent investment in primary care workforce following the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ (the College’s) 2022 workforce survey released today.

GPNZ Chair Dr Bryan Betty says the survey’s finding that 37% of GPs intend to retire in the next five years, 55% in next 10 years, is part of a continuing pattern, and risks compounding the already critical shortage of family doctors.

“There is no time to waste. We need to increase the numbers of domestically trained doctors and incentivise more to choose a career in general practice when they graduate.

“It’s encouraging that there have been some recent initiatives including funding for practices taking on junior doctors in community-based attachments, but it’s not enough.”

Dr Betty emphasises that there is just as much need to expand our primary health care nursing workforce.

“More investment and support for nurses choosing general practice careers, including well-defined opportunities for career development, will make a real difference to the delivery of health care in the community.”

Dr Betty says that our health workforce to date has not been planned, trained or recruited based on projected need, contributing to unrelenting shortages and subsequent increased hospital pressures.

“PHOs are implementing innovative local workforce initiatives to expand general practice teams with roles such as clinical pharmacists, clinical assistants and social workers. We need to urgently build this in country-wide, to offer a wider range of access to equitable community health care.

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“One of the key changes needed in order to grow our community health workforce is to value them on a par with their secondary care colleagues. We need to ensure pay equity between the primary and community workforce and Te Whatu Ora employees, combined with investment in initiatives to support staff wellbeing.”

Almost 5,000 Fellows, Members and Associates of the College and the Division of Rural Hospital Medicine were surveyed (almost all doctors working in New Zealand general practice and rural hospital medicine), with a response rate of 72%.

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