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General Practitioners Aotearoa Supports New Zealand Resident Doctors Association’s Strike

General Practitioners Aotearoa (GPA) is in full support of the New Zealand Resident Doctors Association’s (NZRDA) plan to strike on May 7.

GPA also warns that if Te Whatu Ora Health NZ does not address funding issues for general practitioners, GPs will also need to take action.

Junior doctors deserve fair pay, and undervaluing them contributes to massive problems in our health system.

“Some specialty trainees are looking at a pay cut, including general practice registrars at a time when we desperately need more trainees,” says GPA Chair Dr Buzz Burrell. “That’s not ok.”

Te Whatu Ora is planning to amalgamate GP trainees into its single employer collective agreement (SECA).

If the current pay cut proposals go ahead along with the SECA amalgamation, GPs in their first year of practice are likely to see a salary cut of over $12,000.

“And we’re hearing that junior doctors, among other things, are not able to take leave that is entitled to them,” says Dr Burrell.

“That puts patients in danger, and it’s burning out our workforce of young doctors before they even find their stride.”

Under-valuing and burnout are familiar issues for GPs.

“Funding for the GP workforce, like that of junior doctors, has been eroded over the years,” Dr Burrell says.

“At the same time, Te Whatu Ora keeps loading more work onto our plates, and isn’t stepping up to address the shortage of GPs.”

Dr Burrell says more senior GPs are leaving the workforce each year.

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“They’re selling up to corporates, because it’s no longer profitable to run a clinic.

“Meanwhile the supply of junior GPs is dwindling. And I can’t blame the young doctors, because it’s clear the Government is hanging us out to dry.

“The result is, as we all know, that people have to wait weeks to get an appointment with their GP. Then when they do, they’re dealing with a stressed-out and overworked doctor.

“How is that good for anyone?”

Unlike hospital doctors, GPs are not allowed to unionise or strike.

“That has always been a barrier to GPs negotiating for a better primary health system,” Dr Burrell says.

“But nevertheless, we will have to take some kind of action if things don’t change.

“The path we’re on is completely untenable. Our members are fed up,” Dr Burrell says.

“We want to see junior hospital doctors get treated fairly, and we’re behind them every step of the way.

“Next on the agenda is fair pay for GPs.”

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