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Budget Must Deliver For A GP Workforce In Crisis

Funding to train more general practitioners is desperately needed in this year’s Budget. Why? Because our GP workforce is in crisis, says Pam Newlove, Partner at Grant Thornton New Zealand. Read Pam’s full article here.

Newlove says, “Our aging population, changing models of care, and GPs’ rapid retirement rate – 50% over the next 10 years – has created a perfect storm in the primary care sector.

“Demand is growing and supply is falling. The number of GPs per 100,000 Kiwis is projected to fall from 74 to 70 over the next decade, which doesn’t compare favourably with Australia’s 116 GPs per 100,000.

“We also aren’t training enough GPs. Last year, New Zealand enrolled 2,876 students at its two medical schools compared to Australia’s 21 medical schools which enrolled 18,157 people. Australia has five times our population, and it’s training more than six times as many doctors.”

Newlove also says when there isn’t enough room for students at our two schools in Otago and Auckland, New Zealand loses a reasonable number of medical students to Australia as well; they often enrol in Australian universities and ultimately some decide to live and practice there.

Crunching the numbers: More funding needed to train GPs – but the payoff is massive

Newlove says, “Our current training intake for GPs is 200 a year, and we need at least 300 a year to meet the forecast shortfall.

“To support this additional number of trainees, universities need some extra funding, and an extra 100 general practices should be incentivised to take on first-year registrars. The time and cost for these incentives are significant, but the return on investment will be substantial.”

Calculations by the RNZCGP estimate the extra GPs would generate a net benefit to our economy of $139.6 million, after deducting the $10.4 million it would cost to train them.

“For every dollar spent on training a GP, we’d get $4 in national benefits. To put it in a more human context, an extra 10 GPs per 100,000 Kiwis would mean an estimated 30 fewer deaths each year from cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular issues.

“Training more GPs would also help us develop a more diverse GP workforce, which has been shown to materially improve health equity.

“If we invest in primary care, every New Zealander will experience the benefits. We all understand you can’t fix the entire healthcare system by simply throwing money at it, but in Budget after Budget primary care is left behind. GPs and their practices are left trying to deliver more services to more people with fewer resources - both financial and human,” says Newlove.

Access Pam Newlove’s full article here.

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