General Practice Leaders’ Forum disappointed that small capitation offer will increase patient costs

21 June 2024

Category: Media releases


The General Practice Leaders’ Forum (GPLF) says that the 4% increase in capitation funding for general practice is disappointing especially when patients are potentially going to have to pick up the shortfall in funding.

Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) yesterday released their proposed annual uplift of base funding to support practices to meet their costs and the Annual Statement of Reasonable Fee Increases which sets the maximum a GP can increase fees. Health New Zealand’s proposal is based on funding allocated in last month’s Budget.

“We are all aware of the financial constraints facing New Zealanders,” says GPLF Chair and Wellington GP, Dr Sam Murton.

“Working on the front line of community medicine every day we care for those affected by the recession and see the impact this has on their physical and mental health.”

“General practices are no different, feeling the financial constraints of the current economic times while trying to balance this with serving their patient communities to the best of their abilities,” she says.

GP fees will rise after Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora have failed to cover the increased costs of providing community health care. Their proposal is that the gap between an offered increase of 4%, and their calculated increase cost in providing health care of 5.58%, be covered by a disproportionate increase in patient fees by a minimum of 7.76%.

“This is unacceptable to us as GPs in communities,” says Dr Murton. “We know that patients with a long-term relationship with their GP cost the health system less.”

The GPLF believes that the best approach to a sustainable primary health system is proper investment into general practice through increasing the number of primary health practitioners such as GPs and Nurses and making primary health care accessible.

The government needs to invest in primary care to ensure that we are preventing a further increase in hospitalisations for non-urgent cases. We know that for every $1 spent in primary care, $14 is saved further down the line in hospital care.

“It is disappointing to see that Health New Zealand do not recognise the urgency to prioritise investment in primary care,” says Dr Murton. “As GPs we want what is best for our communities and more government investment would mean that more services could be delivered to the patient closer to home.”

The GPLF believes that the model used to fund general practice needs updating in order for primary health care to be sustainable, and in fact the government’s own reviews into funding have recommended increases of 10 – 20 percent on average to reach this.

This doesn’t take into account or address the unmet needs and inequities there are in accessing healthcare in New Zealand. General practices are under pressure so there is the risk that some communities will soon lose access to some of their local primary health care services.

“The capitation funding needs to be increased. The current amount proposed will only create further inequity in our primary healthcare system through shifting costs to patients who can’t always afford to pay for essential family doctor services.”

This media release has been sent on behalf of the General Practice Leaders’ Forum. The General Practice Leaders’ Forum consists of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP), General Practice NZ (GPNZ), Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network, New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), Practice Managers and Administrators Association of New Zealand (PMAANZ) and the General Practice Owners Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (GenPro).