More evidence emerged today of New Zealand’s failing health system with the news that 182 health clinics across the country have stopped accepting new patients, including all the clinics in Marlborough.
More than 150 medical clinics around New Zealand have closed their doors to new patients.
People barred from joining their chosen clinic face will generally face a trek across town to another general practice that is taking patients, but earlier this year all of Marlborough’s had closed their books.
The blame nationally has fallen on a shortage of GPs, state funding rising less than primary care costs, rapid population growth and even the hot Auckland property market enticing people to move to the provinces.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was unavailable to comment last night.
Nationally, 182 of the 1014 general practices were refusing to take new patients, according to January data, the latest held by the Health Ministry when it was released to the Labour Party last month under the Official Information Act…
…The worst-affected areas were Tauranga, South Canterbury, Manawatu-Horowhenua – and especially Marlborough, where none of the region’s primary health organisation’s eight clinics was taking new patients. Read the full article here.
New Zealand is presented often as having a ‘world class’ health system, however it is underfunded and understaffed, with some regions suffering from a severe lack of medical specialists.
By April 2015, according to the World Health Organisation, New Zealand’s health system ranked 41st in the world, behind Singapore at 6th, the UK at 18th, Australia at 32nd, the USA on 37th place & Cuba at 39th.
A lack of joined up thinking is prevalent in New Zealand
The Bay of Plenty GP waiting list is the worst in New Zealand. Surjit Kumar and Birbal Singh in Tauranga (a town very popular with migrants) have been waiting unsuccessfully for three months to get into a GP clinic.
Last year the New Zealand government adopted a policy of directing migrants towards regional areas by offering more points for them. Unfortunately, it failed to ensure that the country’s strained and underfunded infrastructure was able to cope with even a modest influx in numbers.
Immigration New Zealand’s web site states:
Getting seen by a doctor is usually easy (unless you live in a small town or somewhere particularly remote), and healthcare is quite affordable.
Tauranga is the most populous city in the Bay of Plenty. With a population of 134,400 it is New Zealand’s fifth largest city. If the immigration service’s website is to be believed, getting registered with a doctor should not be a problem.
According to the NZ Herald
The College of General Practitioners says there is a shortage of GPs. The number of full-time equivalent GPs per capita shrank by 12 per cent from 1999 to 2012 – to 74 for every 100,000 people. Australia had 112 per 100,000 people.
“In addition to the low and falling FTE GP to population ratio, further evidence can be seen in the existence of waiting lists for patients wishing to enrol with a practice, and practices with closed books,” the college said in a report on the GP workforce…
Ageing and burned-out workforce
Meanwhile the GP college is launching a funding appeal to train more doctors to pep-up an “ageing and burned-out workforce” that is running to stand still.
A campaign to attract and train more GPs has been launched, amid warnings of an ageing and burnt-out workforce.
“There simply aren’t enough of us,” said Tim Malloy, president of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, which launched its “GP – Heart of the community” campaign on Monday, to attract funding and public support to train more general practitioners.
More GPs were working part-time to balance work and family, so “just to stand still the college needs to train a greater number of GPs each year, and we simply need more funding to do so”, Malloy said.
New Zealand had significantly fewer GPs per head of population than in the late 1990s, and 44 per cent of them intended to retire within 10 years. source Stuff.co.nz
We’re betting that this data will not make its way onto the New Zealand immigration department’s website anytime soon.
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Beware the new points system for “Migrants for Regions” E2NZ.org July 2015