New Minister of Health has a big to-do list

College news
26 October 2017

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners congratulates Hon Dr David Clark MP on his appointment as Minister of Health, and Hon Julie-Anne Genter MP and Hon Jenny Salesa MP on their appointments as associate health ministers. 

College President Dr Tim Malloy said:

“We welcome the appointment of Hon Dr David Clark MP as Minister of Health, who takes up this position bringing with him plenty of experience as Labour’s health spokesperson in opposition. David has taken the time to get to know the sector.

“I also welcome the appointments of Hon Julie-Anne Genter MP and Hon Jenny Selesa MP, who both bring with them valuable expertise in health.

“David Clark has a big primary care in-tray, given the inequities in how Kiwis pay for primary care, and the pressure GPs are under with the workforce shortage and burn-out rates, particularly in rural and low-income areas.

“The College is keen to work with the new ministerial team.”

Election promises

During the election campaign, all three parties now represented in Government made plans around improving primary care. In particular, Labour committed to increase the intake to 300 GP training places per year and initiating a review of primary care funding.

Dr Malloy added: “The new Government’s priority should be initiating its review of primary care funding, fully involving the College and the primary health care sector. We want to work with the government to ensure all New Zealanders have access to high quality and sustainable primary care.

“Training 300 new GPs a year will result in real benefits to patients, so we look forward to making this happen.”

Coalition and confidence and supply agreements

The Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement sets out that free doctors’ visits will be extended to cover all under-14s and implements new health checks.

Dr Malloy said: “These announcements will be welcomed by families across New Zealand, but the new Government must make sure these policies are fully-resourced so that general practices can deliver them sustainably.”



Extracts from Labour health policy:

From 1 July 2018, Labour will lower the cost of GP visits by $10 through:

  • Lowering the VLCA fee cap by $10 to $8 for adults and $2 for teens (under 13s are already free), with a funding increase to VLCA practices to cover this
  • Increasing government funding for all practices that lower their fees by $10, lowering the average non-VLCA fee from $42 to $32 and the maximum fee from $69 to $59
  • Increasing funding for GP training places, taking the intake to 300 per year
  • Carrying out a review of primary care funding to further reduce barriers to primary care and ensure the financial sustainability of practices. 

Extracts from New Zealand First health policy:

Better Community Health

  • Increase the number of medical professionals choosing to be General Practitioners, especially in rural areas.

The Health System

  • Use a range of measures to ensure the adequate recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas.

Extracts from Green Party health policy:


  • Match increasing need for health services with increased funding to enable us to keep pace with the growing need for all kinds of health services.

Making Primary Care More Affordable for Those in the Most Need

  • Adjust the funding formula for primary care (general practice) to ensure there is no financial barrier to people accessing the care they need

Workforce Solutions

  • Commit to implementing solutions to health workforce problems that have been jointly developed by health professionals.

College President Dr Tim Malloy

Ministerial Brief

The College has prepared a Briefing to the Minister of Health, outlining the concerns of general practitioners and giving an overview of the sector.

Read the Brief