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New Training Money An Important Step In Increasing GP Numbers

General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ) today welcomed Health Minister Andrew Little’s announcement today that the Government is putting more money into GP training.

Initiatives developed by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) and funded from next year will mean increased salaries for first year GP registrars, more funded teaching time for GP educators, and funding for general practices hosting doctors undertaking community-based attachments.

GPNZ Chair and Karori GP Dr Jeff Lowe said today’s annoucement is a positive step: ‘We welcome the overdue recognition of the need to pay GP trainees more to align their terms and conditions more closely with trainees in hospital specialities. It’s also encouraging that practices can access some financial support to help cover some of the costs of having a trainee doctor in the practice.’

But Dr Lowe added more work needs to be done to avoid our reliance on overseas-trained GPs and to ensure that general practice is an appealing career at all stages of the medical training pathway.

‘That means funding general practice so that specialist GPs can earn incomes commensurate with hospital speciallists and can also afford to pay their staff salaries that are equivalent to those in secondary care,’ he said.

Today’s announcement states that practices will receive $300 a week for having a junior doctor on a Community Based Attachments (CBA). There was no previous funding allocation for CBAs.

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‘We’re pleased about the support for CBAs which are an essential introduction to primary health care. CBA opportunities have been extremely variable under the former DHBs and we now have an opportunity to ensure that recent medical graduates can get high quality training experience in primary care settings in all parts of Aotearoa.’

‘We know that PHOs and practices will do all they can to make CBAs available as widely as possible now that support is there,’ Dr Lowe added, ‘Meaningful time in general practice and primary care is vital at all stages of medical training - and in all health careers. We know that’s what brings people into the job when they qualify.’

Dr Lowe also said that general practices need to be resourced to provide the infrastructure to offer training for all members of theteam – that means ensuring that there is funding for the physical space and IT, and having protected time for the educators, as well as the trainees.

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