Family doctor services at risk as Government announces real-terms decrease in funding
June 19, 2022
The government's annual increase in capitation funding for primary care is non-negotiable. This is of particular importance for children, community service card holders, and the elderly who have subsidised consults. In the 18 years since its inception, the capitation has only ONCE met the consumer price index. This means primary healthcare funding is well behind the real cost of running a practice. Not just in Northland as per the Herald news article, - but all over NZ. Patient fees are also capped by the government, and again they are capped at only half of CPI. What other private business can not determine what it charges??
Every year primary care is expected to do more for its population for less money. In order to cover our escalating costs and keep within the government fee cap, we will have to recruit another 1600 patients next year even though we would struggle to continue to provide the same level of service.
Primary care can not compete with the DHB's staff remuneration. Nurses have a 27% pay gap with their hospital colleagues and doctors are similar.
It is getting harder and harder to recruit and retain staff. We have had no applications for a general practitioner role that we are recruiting for.
The administrative burden has become so great and the pay has fallen way behind other medical specialties that no one wants to work in primary care anymore. It is no longer the lifestyle option of preference.
Unless the government takes action there will be a decreasing number of primary care providers around the country. We have a workforce of GPs who are reaching retirement age and no one to replace them. There are many areas around the country where it is impossible to register with a GP, and, if you are lucky enough to have one it can take weeks to get an appointment. If you value general practice please write to the Health Minister, Andrew Little. Demand action. His email address is Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively email Simon Watts our local MP on email@example.com
We need more nurses and GPs. There needs to be pay equity with hospital staff. Unless there is a change we may no longer be able to offer subsidised appointments. This will affect the children, the vulnerable and the elderly and is not what we want to do at all. New Zealanders deserve a much better health system.