General practitioners are expecting to see more winter illnesses with higher severity this year due to the reopening of the borders. However, they want to reassure their communities that they are still always here to care.
Dr Bryan Betty, Medical Director of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners says, “With the reopening of the borders leading to a rapid spread of influenza, and COVID-19 continuing to circulate in the community, there is a much bigger demand for our services than in the previous few years.”
Most people in New Zealand get their healthcare needs met in the community by local specialist GPs and their teams, and every year, over the winter months, general practices see an influx of patients for winter illnesses such as the influenza or RSV.
“This combined with workforce shortages is leading to pressures in the system, and practices are working hard to prioritise patients and meet this demand.”
In 2020, general practice had 20.5 million contacts with patients, and this number is expected to rise to 23 million in 2030.
“The College will continue to advocate that the health of New Zealanders be put front and centre and ensure there is the appropriate support and resources available in the community,” says Dr Betty.