GPs at breaking point as labour shortages, COVID-19 and health system cause widespread frustration

GPs are warning they're reaching breaking point under the pressure of labour shortages, COVID-19 and a broken health system.

The frustration was obvious when Health Minister Andrew Little faced fuming doctors after unveiling how the health system will be monitored.

But their attitudes towards the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield couldn't have been more different.

One doctor told Newshub she crossed the Tasman to work in New Zealand's healthcare system. Now she's appalled by it. 

"It's affecting everybody, anybody that has a health need," she said. 

Her frustrations are shared by GPs who on Friday challenged Little. They are frustrated by deepening poverty, inequality and labour shortages. 

Medical director Dr Bryan Betty said the industry is at a breaking point. 

"I think it's reaching almost a crisis point at this moment."

Dr Betty said morale is at an all-time low and GPs are increasingly frustrated. 

"I have to say over the last year it's the most palpable I've seen or heard it." 

But Little brushed off the bruising. 

"I don't come here to be licked up and down. I come here to engage with people and I want to know what the problems are."  

Little was at the GPs' conference to unveil how the Government will monitor the health system

But was laughed at when he tried to explain the new standards.

The Opposition is also sceptical about what the Government is calling indicators. 

National's Health Spokesperson Shane Reti said targets are needed - not indicators. 

"An indicator is not a target, an indicator is just a direction of travel - a target you're held accountable for," he said.

Unlike targets, the health indicators will work a bit like a dashboard. They'll monitor things like wait times, immunisation rates, hospital admissions and access to primary care and if a region falls behind, Little's promising to pump in resources for a localised fix.

But while Little was in the doctor dog box on Friday, it was all 'thank yous' for Dr Bloomfield.

Between selfies, he talked about COVID-19 vaccines - saying the Government's in the market for booster jabs.

"Probably at this point, we think maybe annual shots to address emerging variants," he said. 

Warning already stretched GPs this is only the beginning.