Northlanders fed up with waiting 'weeks' to see a doctor

Northlanders are so fed up with having to wait weeks to see a GP, they're signing a petition demanding more doctors.

A chronic shortage of doctors is leaving locals waiting up to a month to see their GP.

Teacher Miriam Burgess-Payne wants something done about it. 

"We need help, we're sick of it. It's just been going on and on and it's just not okay," she told Newshub.

"It's not okay to wait a month to be seen by a doctor. People need good care and people need continuity of care."

The primary school teacher struggles to get an appointment for her 11-month-old son.

"I've never been able to get a same-day appointment for him.

"My family live in the Bay of Plenty - my mum and dad - and they're moving to Northland. They're in their 70s and I have genuine concerns about their ability to see a doctor when they need to see a doctor."

In just a fortnight, her petition calling for action from Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai, Minister of Health David Clark and the DHB, has gathered more than 1200 signatures.

GP Dr Moria Chamberlain signed the petition and says the shortage is nearing crisis point

"We need help now, we don't need it in five years."

West End Medical is one of just four clinics still taking new patients in Whangarei, but there's a limit to what its doctors can do

"[It's a] three to four week wait time. It's worrying for the health care for Northland," Dr Chamberlain said.

She says Northland's population boom and an ageing GP workforce are behind the doctor shortage.

Mahitahi Hauora works to support primary healthcare in Northland and its CEO Phillip Balmer says it's doing its best to provide better healthcare to the growing region.

"We're working really hard short term, we're looking at GP locums that we're bringing in, we're looking at immigration."

But he admits that could take years.

"One-third of GPs have a vacancy. Of that, in the next five years a further third of GPs intend to retire."

Health Minister David Clark is looking at regional training hubs to help curb the shortage. 

"I share their concerns. Having inherited this situation, we are taking it seriously and we are looking to train more GPs."

But that's not good enough for those who are feeling the impact. 

"I know it's an election year, but this can't be ignored," Dr Chamberlain said.