It's almost time for GP23
By College President, Dr Samantha Murton
20 July 2023
Category: College and members
I look forward to giving the opening address at GP23, the college’s conference for general practice in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, tomorrow.
The theme is one that reinforces the importance of working together to support each other, as well as continuing to do the best we can for the communities that we serve right across the motu:
Connecting: hauora, courage and togetherness. Nāu to rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi (with your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive).
Nobody chooses this career because it’s the easy option. As we have all experienced, especially in the past few years, it is a challenging time to be working in general practice, rural hospital medicine and primary care, with workforce shortages due to burnout or retirement taking a toll.
This year, we wanted to bring delegates an uplifting, future-focused and thought-provoking weekend that provides opportunities to ask questions, share ideas, listen, learn and, of course, network.
Delegates will include Fellows and registrars of the college and its Division of Rural Hospital Medicine, as well as some current medical students. For the first time, we have also extended an invitation to those who have applied for next year’s GPEP and rural hospital medicine training programmes.
A supportive environment
This year, we wanted to bring delegates an uplifting, future-focused and thought-provoking weekend
With this wide-ranging group of attendees, I’m hoping we will create an environment where everyone feels supported to share their opinions about the state of the workforce, how GPs on the front line are feeling, and what changes and actions need most urgently to be addressed to build a health system that is sustainable for those working in it, and our patients and communities.
Our impressive line-up of keynote speakers includes Sir Peter Gluckman, distinguished professor at the Liggins Institute of the University of Auckland; Dame Karen Poutasi, new chair of Te Whatu Ora; Helen Robinson, Auckland city missioner, and our very own specialist GP Kerryn Lum. All will provide insights into how they feel the health system is faring and where it should be heading, based on their own work, experiences, and places within the sector.
I look forward to hearing from Olympic champion Dame Valerie Adams, who is an amazing athlete, leader and Pasifika role model. Dame Valerie’s time with us will be a Q+A session so now is the time to think of what you’d like to ask this New Zealand icon.
With the election only three months away, we will also hear from, and question, those who hold the health portfolios in Parliament.
Results from our 2022 Workforce Survey highlight a workforce that feels more burned out, overworked, under pressure and undervalued than ever before, and we all have our views on how this is affecting us and how we can move towards fixing this workforce crisis.
As highly skilled diagnosticians known for being the masters of pivot, asking the right questions and thinking on our feet, GPs have come to the point where accepting the status quo is no longer sustainable. We need to see swift action to address the issues in primary care.
Advocating for the workforce
With an urgent need to train more “homegrown” GPs and rural hospital doctors, this is a prime time to highlight to the medical students and those about to join our training programmes just how much work goes into advocating for the workforce and making it fit for the future, as well as to showcase all the great things about this career.
We have had some small, but necessary, wins such as more funding for GPEP training and the commitment to fund 50 additional medical students, and we need to take those wins as a step in the right direction.
As college president and a passionate teacher of the next generation of GPs, I advocate for our workforce whenever the opportunity arises. As a working GP in a busy central Wellington practice, I also am aware of the importance of looking after our own health and wellbeing, and having appropriate access to resources and services we need to improve health outcomes for New Zealanders.
While our annual conference is the perfect place to discuss these important aspects of the job, we shouldn’t forget about the other part of the conference that will boost our morale and wellbeing.
It isn’t often we have this many GPs, rural hospital doctors, sector experts and health organisations under one roof at the same time. No doubt there will be old med school mates you haven’t seen for a while or past colleagues to catch up with, and many new faces to connect with.
And if you’re not from Auckland, take some time to look around the central business district and take advantage of what the city has to offer. A “golden ticket” on the back of the conference lanyard gives access to some of the city’s best sights and attractions.
I look forward to seeing you soon at GP23.
Samantha Murton is a Wellington-based specialist GP and president of the RNZCGP
The conference website is https://www.generalpractice.org.nz/
This column was published in NZ Doctor on 19 July 2023