Waitaki region compares well for GP numbers
Southern New Zealand, including Waitaki, compares reasonably well with other parts of the country in terms of the number of general practitioners (GPs) per population.
The recently released Medical Workforce Survey showed the southern region had 94 GPs per 100,000 population, which placed it fifth among the 20 regions in the country.
The district health board region with the most GPs per 100,000 population was Nelson/ Marlborough, with 109, followed by Wellington’s Capital and Coast (105), Auckland (100), and Bay of Plenty (95).
The region with the fewest GPs per population was Counties-Manukau, with 62. Other regions towards the bottom of the list were Mid Central in the North Island (63), South Canterbury and Taranaki (both 65), and the West Coast (67).
The survey also revealed some differences between urban and rural areas.
There was a significantly higher proportion of international medical graduates in rural areas compared with urban areas – 54.5 percent of doctors in rural areas were international graduates compared to 37.8 percent in main urban areas.
It was thought this was due to rural areas being harder to staff, so positions in these areas were more likely to be filled by doctors from outside New Zealand.
Main urban areas had the highest concentration of GPs (92.5 per 100,000 population), closely followed by secondary urban areas (89.8), with rural areas significantly lower (72.4).
There was a higher proportion of female doctors in urban areas compared with rural areas – 44.3 percent of doctors in main urban areas were female compared with 39.2 percent of doctors in rural areas
For all doctors, the average number of hours worked per week was slightly lower in rural areas, but the number of on-call hours was higher.
Doctors in rural areas on average were on call for 8.7 hours per week compared with 5.3 for doctors in main urban areas.
The average hours worked per week by GPs was higher in rural areas than in urban areas – 37.2 hours per week in rural areas compared with 33.9 hours per week in main urban areas.
Doctors working in rural areas tended to be on average older than those working in urban areas. The average age was 48.1 years in rural areas compared with 44.7 years in main urban areas.
A higher proportion of female doctors work in urban areas than rural areas, the survey found.