Sharing GPs’ concerns on the national stage

College news
12 May 2017

On 11 May, College President Dr Tim Malloy had the opportunity to talk about issues facing GPs and their patients when he spoke at Labour’s Primary Care Summit at the Beehive.

Dr Malloy spoke about two major issues: the chronic shortage of GPs and the inequity of access to GPs for high-needs patients.

“Our health care system is facing a major strain,” said Dr Malloy. “The majority of our GPs are 50 or older, and 44 percent of our workforce intends to retire in the next 10 years.

“According to our research 22 percent of GPs feel burnt out, and only 36 percent feel they have enough time to complete all their daily tasks,” he said.

“One of the New Zealand Health Strategy’s themes is ‘closer to home’. This recognises the value of health care being provided within people’s local communities. 

“To achieve this we need to increase the capacity of general practice, not leave it unsupported.”

The GP shortage is making it harder for patients to get GP appointments, but cost is also a barrier.

“There are sectors of our society that simply cannot get to see their GP often because of cost – but also because of transport and distance factors - particularly for those in rural areas.  The elderly and those on low incomes are often worst affected,” he said.

“The NZ Health Survey shows more than 500,000 people chose not to see a GP because of cost.  That’s half a million people with unmet need. “The same survey found that 21 percent of Maori and Pacific people could not afford to see a doctor when they needed one.

“As a country we should be ashamed of these statistics.”

Dr Malloy was one of several primary health care experts who spoke at the event.  Others included NZMA’s Dr Kate Baddock, GPNZ’s Dr Larry Jordan, NZMSA’s Emily Dwight, and Les Toop from Otago University.

At the end of the summit, Labour leader Andrew Little announced his party would put $43 million into funding free GP consults for people requiring mental health treatments.

Dr Malloy was interviewed by several media outlets after the summit.  You can see his comments in these links below:

One News breakfast segment – 12/5/17 7.22AM 

Newshub 6PM news report – 11/5/17

One News 6PM news report – 11/5/17 third item

Radio NZ Checkpoint – 11/5/17 3minute 15sec

Fairfax article