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Local response to difficulties with primary care health funding

We agree with the contents of the media release (set out adjacent) issued by GenPro this last week. It is really disappointing that the expectation is for the community to fund the significant shortfall in Primary Care funding. Our representatives are still in negotiations with Te Whatu Ora. We recognise the ever-increasing financial burden on the community, not only in health care fees, but also daily living costs, and we are really hoping for a successful outcome to negotiations.
 |  Lorraine Macallister  | 

The Mercury Bay Medical Centre the night before it opened in July 2023.

Workforce is always a challenge. We recognise our community’s desire to have a regular doctor that they know well. We hope the information in the media and this article puts into perspective how difficult it is for practices to find and retain GP’s. As this press release highlights, the shortage of GP’s is a nationwide issue and we, as a practice, have been working hard to find highly skilled practitioners to work alongside our GP’s.

Introducing roles such as nurse practitioners, clinical pharmacist prescriber, physician associate and nurse prescribers has created a highly qualified extended care team to support the community. Recruitment is an ongoing challenge, and we never stop working on it.

GPs warn of fee increases and more closures if miserly 4 percent uplift confirmed.

Media Release, June 20, 2024 -portion.

From General Practice Owners Association (GenPro)

GPs fees will have to rise after Te Whatu Ora failed to cover the increased costs of providing community healthcare, GenPro is warning.

And the likelihood of more towns and rural areas losing their family doctors is also increasing, according to GenPro Deputy Chair, Stephanie Taylor.

Dr Taylor’s comments follow Te Whatu Ora releasing its proposed annual uplift of base funding to support practices to meet their costs, and the Annual Statement of Reasonable Fee Increases, which sets the maximum a GP can increase fees. Te Whatu Ora’s proposal is based on funding allocated in last month’s Budget.

“General practices are under pressure and many GPs are deciding enough is enough and retiring or closing their practices. Some communities have or will soon lose access to their local medical, injury, and mental health service, or it will lack the key component – an experienced GP.

“The the best approach … is proper investment in general practice and increasing the numbers of GPs, but nothing in the Budget or Te Whatu Ora’s statement addressed this. GPs are now forced to face the choice of increasing fees or reducing services to remain viable. Neither is a choice that GPs want to make, and neither benefits patients.

More than 50 percent of family doctors are due to retire by 2030 and there isn’t an available workforce to replace them. Of the 300 places available for training future GPs, only 238 were filled in 2023.

“Multiple reports show that the current GP funding model is simply not fit for purpose. For example, about one in three GP practices is losing money. Fixing the situation will require investment to retain the shrinking workforce, attract doctors to general practice, and recognise the quality and continuity of care they deliver.”

“Successive years of increased labour costs, demand, expectations, regulation and compliance have significantly increased the running costs of general practice without a commensurate increase in funding,” Dr Taylor said.

“Higher consultation fees result in GPs becoming unaffordable, which means ill people do not seek care, or they present at crowded emergency departments in public hospitals. This adds to the unsustainable nature of trying to manage a GP clinic.”

Dr Taylor also said Te Whatu Ora’s proposed adjustment had come too late for meaningful consultation, as it is supposed to apply from July 1.

“The information was just released so we have not been given adequate time to discuss this offer with our GenPro Members and the wider GP community”.

About GenPro:

The General Practice Owners Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (GenPro) is an independent membership organisation which acts on behalf of and represents general practice owners to ensure their population health services are appropriately supported and that their businesses are sustainable.

– Business Manager, Mercury Bay Medical Centre