The College is pleased to release the first findings of its 2018 Workforce Survey. This report, which is one of three, focuses on the demographics of New Zealand’s GP workforce. It looks into working arrangements, GP wellbeing, vacancies, income and closed books – and it also includes the all-important area of ‘retirement intentions’.  

For the most part, the 2018 data is in line with previous findings. It confirms we have an aging workforce, comprised of predominantly New Zealand Europeans working in cities and towns. We also know that:

  • Just over half the total workforce is female
  • Half of those working rurally were trained overseas.
  • There continues to be a disproportionately lower number of Māori and Pacific GPs.
  • Sixty-three percent provide acute after-hours general practice care.

Areas of interest

Some of the significant changes captured in the 2018 data, compared to other years are highlighted below:

GPs’ retirement intentions remain high

  • 27 percent of GPs intend to retire within the next five years, and 47 percent of GPs intend to retire within the next 10 years. 
  • Among those intending to retire before 2023, 85 percent have either already reduced their working hours or plan to do so by 2021.

More practices have GP vacancies

  • In 2018, 31 percent of respondents said they were working in a practice with a GP vacancy. This is a noticeable increase compared to the 26 percent recorded in 2017.
  • In rural areas, this problem is worse, with 39 percent of respondents working in practices with a GP vacancy. This is up four percent, on the 35 percent reported in 2017.
  • Overall, 70 percent of GPs said they were working in a practice that either had a current GP vacancy, or had had one in the past 12 months.

Burn-out is increasing

  • In 2018, 26 percent of GPs rated themselves high on the burn-out scale, compared to 22 percent in 2016.

Pay equity is still an issue

  • The average GP income in 2018 ($156,000) has changed little in recent years (in 2016 it was $152,500). 
  • While rural and urban GPs earn similar incomes, once again it is disappointing to find that male fulltime GPs are twice as likely to earn $200,000 than females. 

About this research

This is the fifth in a series of annual workforce surveys that the College has undertaken since 2014. In 2018 a total of 3,056 College members participated in the survey, providing our highest ever response rate (61 percent).  

This survey provides objective evidence which is crucial if we are to make informed decisions in order to future proof our workforce. The data helps identify pressure points and set the direction of our advocacy work.  

The report contains a lot of in-depth detail which is worth reading and understanding, in order to get a true picture of the general practice sector.

The second report will look at factors that might influence GPs’ working hours, the types of referrals they receive, and how often they change practices.  The third, is a special report into the rural workforce.

More information

If you would like to see a copy of the Workforce survey questions, please email us at

View the full report