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Here's a classic fence at the top of the cliff situation.
Primary healthcare, the GP's practice or medical centre to you and me, are horribly neglected and have been hopelessly underfunded for decades.
In a nutshell, New Zealand is desperately short of GPs, and a lot of those we do have are getting towards the end of their careers.
Around half of all GPs will retire sometime in the next decade.
And we're just not replacing them fast enough, let alone doing anything to boost their ranks.
The hole in the bucket is bigger than the hose we're trying to fill it with.
And it's not like flicking a switch, yes, we can bring doctors in from overseas, but what we really need is train our own.
The current GPs themselves also say there's not enough emphasis on general practice when they're at medical school.
Students, they say, need to be exposed to general practice as well as hospital medicine before they graduate.
Pay parity is another must, and rural services, well that's a whole different problem.
- Kate Hawkesby: Start investing in our health system now, or it'll only get worse
- GP shortage blamed for series of health mishaps
Every winter the hospital emergency departments plead with people not to turn up with coughs and colds, ‘go to your local doctor,’ they say.
What local doctor? You say...or...well yes I would, but I can't get an appointment for two weeks.
So at long, long last, the Health Minister is responding by putting trainee GPs on a par financially with trainee hospital doctors.
If it was me, I'd go a lot further.
I'd put a lot more of our health money into primary healthcare and get those GP numbers up to the levels they have in Canada or Australia.
And make GP visits free for everyone. Diagnose things early, treat them quickly and treat them cheaply.
We've made a start with children, but it's in our collective interest long term for people to see a doctor quickly and for money not to be a barrier.
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