GP college launches funding appeal to train more doctors
A campaign to attract and train more GPs has been launched, amid warnings of an ageing and burnt-out workforce.
"There simply aren't enough of us," said Tim Malloy, president of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, which launched its "GP - Heart of the community" campaign on Monday, to attract funding and public support to train more general practitioners.
More GPs were working part-time to balance work and family, so "just to stand still the college needs to train a greater number of GPs each year, and we simply need more funding to do so", Malloy said.
New Zealand had significantly fewer GPs per head of population than in the late 1990s, and 44 per cent of them intended to retire within 10 years.
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"The college has warned about the forecast shortage of GPs for several years, but the situation is now becoming more and more urgent," Malloy said.
Increased demands from a growing and ageing population, not enough GPs being trained each year, and an ageing workforce were all factors at play.
In 1999 there were 84 full-time equivalent GPs per 100,000 New Zealanders. This dropped to 74 by 2012.
In rural areas the ratio can be much worse.
"There were fewer GPs trained in the 1990s and we're wearing the consequences of this now – well over half of GPs are aged 50 or over, two-thirds say they don't have enough time to complete all their daily tasks, and nearly a quarter are reporting burnout," Malloy said.
"This should be a concern for patients and the community. That's why our campaign is about putting our GPs back into the heart of the community by bringing these issues to the fore.
"If people can't get to see a GP quickly, downstream health costs will inevitably spiral.
"We hope this campaign will help the community understand the role of the GP and garner support for this important, demanding profession."
BY THE NUMBERS:
* 22 per cent of GPs report feeling burnt-out
* 44 per cent of all GPs intend to retire in the next 10 years
* 74 GPs per head of population in 2012
* 84 GPs per head of population in 1999
Source: RNZCGP Workforce Survey 2016