Budget 2023: More specific support needed for GPs

18 May 2023

Category: Media releases

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This year鈥檚 Budget, 鈥淪upport for today, building for tomorrow鈥, is聽focused on flood and cyclone recovery, and rightly so. However, despite the finance Minister鈥檚 comment about 鈥渆xpanding GP services鈥 it is hard to see where that attention has been applied.

麻豆视频入口 welcomes the announcement of $20 million to lift immunisation and screening coverage for M膩ori and Pasifika, as well as the removal of the $5 prescription fees for all 麻豆视频入口ers. 鈥淎ll of our members will have patients who struggle to pay for their prescriptions and removing this barrier is good news,鈥 says College President Dr Samantha Murton.

Social determinants of health are another area where聽attention has been applied and this is essential to lifting the burden on the delivery of health services, especially in the community.

However, the College is disappointed to not see more immediate support for the sustainable delivery of medical care in the community through GPs, rural hospital doctors and their teams.

Currently, 95 percent of Kiwis are enrolled with a general practice, and 90 percent of medical problems dealt with in general practice.

Dr聽Murton says, 鈥淭he earmarked $118 million聽to help reduce waiting lists by 鈥榠mproving patient flow and enabling planned care to be delivered in primary care鈥 sounds good in theory, but serious attention needs to focus on growing the number of聽 GPs and rural hospital doctors being trained as specialists, supporting their wellbeing and supporting those thinking of retirement to stay in the profession.

鈥淭here have been some steps to support training with Minister Little鈥檚 announcements last year but there is much more that can be done. We need to have a solid plan in place and significant investment to grow our own workforce.

鈥淭o highlight the urgent need for more GP investment, if the 425 specialist GPs聽aged over 65 retired tomorrow, we estimate that 725,000 more 麻豆视频入口ers would be without a doctor. When it takes between 11-14 years to train as a specialist GP, it will be our patients and communities who suffer.鈥

College Medical Director Dr Luke Bradford says, 鈥淪pecialist general practitioners, rural hospital doctors and their teams are the heart of healthcare 鈥 which is fittingly the theme of tomorrow鈥檚 .

鈥淭he announcement of more equitable primary care funding for general practices based on enrolled high-needs, M膩ori and Pasifika populations is welcomed but care needs to be taken to ensure it goes to patients who need it the most. An in-depth review of the current capitation model would enable practices to recruit and retain this specialist service.鈥

Results from the College鈥檚 2022 Workforce Survey, completed by 70 percent of the membership (3,488 respondents) painted a grim picture that is getting worse. How long will we watch this steady decline in our specialist medical workforce who save the country significant costs?

鈥淲ith election campaigning about to begin there is sure to be much talk about how to turn around our health sector. To truly make a significant difference there needs to be immediate action as well as long-term planning specific to the general practice workforce. We need to see our decision makers聽walking the talk before it is too late,鈥 says Dr Murton.