Lifeline for Health: Meeting New Zealand’s need for General Practitioners

Emeritus Professor Des Gorman
Dr Murray Horn
Research Report
9 August, 2023

New Zealand's general medical practitioners (GPs) are facing a crisis, with a workforce shortage set to worsen over the next decade unless immediate action is taken to support workforce expansion and development.

The health of all New Zealanders and the delivery of top-tier healthcare heavily relies on community-based medical care, mainly provided by Specialist GPs and multi-disciplinary health care teams.

The introduction of an "accountability-free capitation" has seemingly driven a decline in the hours GPs work by creating a financial incentive to minimize patient service costs, and analyses indicate a significant decrease in the GP to population ratio, and a decline in GP work hours.

If current trends persist, this will likely exacerbate the GP capacity crisis. Remedies for this crisis first and foremost is to retain and extend the existing workforce and may include a significant increase in GP trainees and supportive career planning, alongside a reconsideration of operating and business models in primary and community care settings.

This report advocates for new investment in innovative community healthcare practices, individual budget holdings, and social investment approaches, and it underlines the urgent nature of this crisis, indicating an increasing demand for GPs in the future.

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