22 Aug 2012

Rural Women seek bond numbers

10:30 am on 22 August 2012

Rural Women New Zealand wants the Government to reveal the number of doctors, midwives and nursing graduates who are working in rural communities under a voluntary bonding scheme.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says 2300 health graduates who agreed to work in hard-to-staff areas have now been accepted in the scheme.

He says that for the fourth year, all 510 graduates who applied have been accepted, including more than 40 doctors and more than 400 nurses.

But the bond has been criticised by the Rural General Practice Network, which says that so far only six GP registrars - out of 25 doctors - have received any payment.

The network also points out that primary-care nurses working in rural areas are not eligible.

Rural Women NZ says a key concern is that the scheme appears to have failed to attract any rural GPs, despite more than 40 permanent GP vacancies throughout the country.

Health spokesperson Kerry Maw says the organisation is surprised that the Government can't confirm how many of those registered in the scheme actually work in rural areas.

She says Rural Women NZ wants that addressed in the review of the bonding scheme that has been announced.