General practitioners are in short supply everywhere, but in Feilding it's particularly bad.
All the town's practices have closed their books to new patients, and people waiting to enrol are being sent to doctors in Palmerston North.
"It's a national and an international problem, but Feilding is the one we're most concerned about at the moment," Manawatu Primary Health Organisation manager Nicky Hart said.
Across the MidCentral Health district there are more than 300 people looking for a GP.
Of those, 155 have been referred to practices and are waiting to hear whether they can enrol.
More than 30 of the remaining 146 live in the Manawatu district, with 17 joining the waiting list in the last month.
Ms Hart said some wait-listed people were enrolled with a GP but wanted to change, and there was little capacity to offer what she believed was an important choice.
The 0800 central waiting list service has handled 641 requests to find a GP since it was set up last June.
While about two-thirds of those people had been put in contact with practices, few from Feilding had been placed in town. Most had to travel to Palmerston North.
Casual appointments were sometimes available in Feilding, but patients who weren't enrolled there had to pay more for their visits.
Ms Hart said bringing the Feilding GPs and other health services together in one centre promised the best hope of increasing the existing doctors' ability to see more patients, because they would have more support.
A well-supported medical centre was also more likely to attract new GPs to town.
"At the moment the demand is just greater than the supply, and we don't have a whole lot more GPs waiting to come in and take over."
Ms Hart said the GPs ran their own private businesses and would make the decisions about how they operated in future.
But the PHO was keen to see them move to one large centre and would support them, "in any way we can".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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