Media release: New report urges immediate action to tackle GP crisis in New Zealand

Emeritus Professor Des Gorman
Dr Murray Horn
Media Release
9 August, 2023

Wellington (Wednesday, 9 August 2023) – The New Zealand Initiative has released a report, "Lifeline for Health: Meeting New Zealand’s need for General Practitioners," authored by Emeritus Professor Des Gorman and Dr Murray Horn. It highlights a critical crisis facing New Zealand's general medical practitioners (GPs). The report emphasises the need for immediate action to prevent a deepening workforce shortage over the next decade.
New Zealand’s healthcare depends on community-based medical care, provided by GPs and healthcare teams.  However, this essential system is now at risk due to a decline in the GP workforce, jeopardising the health of all New Zealanders and the delivery of high-quality healthcare.
Introducing an "accountability-free capitation" system has led to a decline in GP work hours and a significant decrease in the GP-to-population ratio. If current trends persist, the capacity crisis GPs face will worsen, with dire consequences for patients nationwide.
The report urges the retention and expansion of the existing GP workforce. Recommendations include significantly increasing the number of trainee GPs, providing better supportive career planning for GPs, and reevaluating operating and business models in primary and community care settings.
To solve this crisis the report suggests investing in innovative community healthcare practices, individual budget holdings, and social investment approaches. These measures are vital to address the current GP workforce shortage and prepare for future challenges.
Professor Des Gorman, one of the report’s authors, stressed the urgency of the situation, stating, "Our research underscores the need for immediate action. We must act now to ensure New Zealand's healthcare system remains strong and capable of meeting the growing demand for GPs in the future."
The New Zealand Initiative asks the government, policymakers, healthcare groups, and the public to work together to fix the GP workforce shortage.  We need to attract, train, and retain GPs to take care of everyone’s health.
"Lifeline for Health" is now publicly accessible on The New Zealand Initiative's website The report is a clear call for action to protect the health and well-being of all New Zealanders.


Read our report: Lifeline for Health: Meeting New Zealand’s need for General Practitioners here

Amanda Boyd, Marketing & Communications Manager
P: 04 499 0790

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