Decision to give young women free healthcare nets local GP top honour  

9 August 2021

Flaxmere-based GP, Dr Sandra Jessop has been awarded Distinguished Fellowship of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. 

Distinguished Fellowship is awarded to Fellows of the College who have made sustained contributions to general practice, medicine, or the health and wellbeing of the community.  

For over 30 years, Dr Jessop has been advocating for, and serving her local community in the Hawkes Bay suburb of Flaxmere, implementing initiatives to make healthcare more accessible for local families. 

Dr Samantha Murton, College President says, “The loyalty Dr Jessop shows to her community epitomises the role of a general practitioner.  

“She has instilled this loyalty in the many generations of new doctors she has trained – leaving them with a passion for improving community care.” 

In 2019, Dr Jessop and her team made the decision to give women under 30 free access to healthcare at their Totara Health sites in Flaxmere and Hastings. By removing the cost barrier, this initiative highlighted the importance of women’s wellbeing. This initiative is still in place today. 

Dr Jessop says, “We decided to make GP and nurse visits free for women under 30 as these are the mothers of our pēpē and tamariki and we think that is it important to promote health and wellbeing for this group so they can care for the next generation.”  

Dr Jessop’s commitment for teaching shows in roles she has taken on within the College. She has been the chief examiner for the General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) for many years, has hosted numerous registrars in her practice and has taken on a visiting GPEP medical educator role. 

This year, six GPs received Distinguished Fellowship at the College’s conference in Wellington.