16 Dec 2015

Demand puts strain on health of Northland doctors

11:44 am on 16 December 2015

The Northland region does not have enough GPs as demand for their services continues to rise, a doctor has warned.

Chris Farrelly of Manaia Primary Health Organisation told Nine to Noon the region needed double the current number of new GPs each year to meet growing demand.

Dr Farrelly said there were 120 GPs in Northland but not all worked full time.

"Amazing workforce under huge pressure. At the moment their workload is increasing and their physical and their health is deteriorating and I'm seeing that after many years working closely with them."

He said the pressure on GPs had been exacerbated by health care being shifted from hospitals to GP practices. As well, many more mental health patients were now going to GPs rather than being treated at hospitals.

Dr Farrelly said patients' expectations had also risen and the move to make health care free for those under 13, while a good initiative, had also increased pressure on GPs.

He said it remained hard to attract young doctors to rural areas like Northland. Most preferred to live in the big cities or went into hospital practice where they were paid more.

Dr Farrelly said initiatives to get young doctors to move to rural areas, such as the voluntary bonding scheme, were a help but more needed to be done.

In Northland, only five GP registrars were being trained at the moment. The region needed to at least double that number, he said.

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