Government increases GP funding, but sector worries it won't fix crippling doctor shortage

The GP sector is worried the Government's increase in GP funding won't fix the current shortage of doctors.

Seven million dollars a year will be spent on pay parity and training for GPs and is expected to boost the workforce in future.

There were no patients in one Waiwhetu waiting room Newshub visited because there are no doctors to see them.

"We are struggling and the impact on this is that our whanau aren't been able to be seen, they're not being diagnosed straight away, so what that means is our community is not healthy," Te Āti Awa Ora director Dinah Luke told Newshub.

The Māori healthcare centre needs five full-time GPs.

"We're advertising everywhere we can but a lot of GPS are going overseas."

And Luke is not alone - about 16,000 GPs are needed across the country and that will only increase as hundreds retire over the next decade.

Health Minister Andrew Little said: "We have major challenges, and it's under major pressure."

So the Health Minister is boosting GP funding by $7 million a year. This includes: 

A pay increase for junior GPs of up to 23 percent

More paid hours for teaching supervisors

Better financial support for GP training courses

"This is a very important first step, it's not the only step - and you can expect over the next two or three years and more that there'll be other initiatives," said Little.

College of GPs president Dr Samantha Murton said today's announcement is a big win, but won't fix the shortage of GPs.

"My biggest worry for the sector at the moment is they are just exhausted. Everyone is thinking about how can I make this work for [the] next two or three years until we have serious numbers coming into the vocation."

Dr Murton said more work is needed to attract medical students.

"How we can get them into general practice more, and that will require funding."

Something community healthcare services are also keen to see. Iwi health providers are urging the Government to increase the funding for more Māori GPs so that they can better address the health inequities.

"Our Māori GPs understand where they are coming from and they've lived that life as well," Luke said.

Lives GP practices want to help if they had enough doctors to care for them.