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Budget 2024 Fails To Deliver Relief For General Practice Pressures

All indications were for an increasingly challenging time ahead, and Budget 2024 has met those expectations.

“Budget 2024 was always going to be delivered against a backdrop of significant fiscal constraints and GPNZ recognises those challenges. We were well briefed, we knew despite our desperate situation this wasn’t going to be our year for change,” says Porirua-based Specialist General Practitioner and Chair of General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ), Dr Bryan Betty.

However, being ready for disappointment doesn’t solve the problems. Every day general practices try their best to cope with demand that far outstrips the capacity they have. There are a growing number of general practices facing an immediate threat to their viability – so the question becomes when will the government finally and fully recognise our crisis?

“We triage, we introduce new roles to the general practice setting, we explore technological solutions, we do everything we can to try make it work. Today is little more than a band aid. The reality is significant change to the funding model is long overdue and delays in addressing the needs of general practice and primary care only exacerbate the pressures on our health system.”

Primary health care cannot afford to wait. When people miss out on care from their general practice their needs don’t just go away. The biggest improvements in population health and the greatest value from health spending come from people having convenient access to high quality primary care, with international evidence indicating that for every $1 invested in primary care downstream savings of up to $13 are made.

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“The irony is the longer we delay, the more unaffordable the problems of our health system become. The stabilisation and recovery of general practice is essential for improving equity, access and improved health outcomes for individuals and whānau, but also for stability of the wider health system in Aotearoa.”

Not only is general practice under pressure like never before, but we are also consistently failing to realise its potential to do more to promote wellbeing and prevent illness.

“Budget 2025 must take decisive action and deliver substantial changes and investments to strengthen general practice. GPNZ will be focused on putting forward evidence and solutions to ensure primary health care receives the attention and resources it deserves because the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders depends on it."

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