The New Zealand Health Survey, published last week, is the latest data snapshot highlighting the urgent need for action to address the workforce crisis in primary health care.
The Ministry of Health run survey is the main source of data on the unmet need for primary healthcare and outlines the reasons people don’t visit a General Practitioner (GP).
Time taken to get an appointment and cost are the two biggest barriers facing New Zealanders. The time taken to get an appointment has increased to 21.2 percent (up from 11.6 percent) in the 2022/23 results.
College President, and Wellington GP Dr Samantha Murton, says “These statistics will only worsen if we do not implement solutions that retain our current workforce and support them to train and grow the next generation of specialist GPs and rural hospital doctors.
“General practice teams all over Aotearoa are losing GPs, nurses and other valuable healthcare workers due to the increased workload pressures, lack of pay parity and lack of investment in our services.”
Timely access to general practice and the services that are provided reduces late presentations, emergency department admissions and saves money.
“If the Government is going to invest in one thing for the health sector, it must be implementing a renewed model of capitation as outlined in the Sapere report. This report recognises that capitation needs to reflect rurality, comorbidities, deprivation, and high needs population.
“General practice needs to be funded correctly to meet the needs of the one million people who cannot access our services. Visiting the GP is a right that everyone should have access to.
“With an ageing and growing population who have more complex health conditions, it’s imperative that we have a well-resourced workforce who are supported to meet the needs of our population now and in the future” says Dr Murton.