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GRACE PRIOR
grace.prior@age.co.nz

Over 300 people are on waitlists to enrol with general practices across Wairarapa, and only three of seven practices have their books open for enrolments.

Practices in Martinborough, Featherston, and Masterton Medical continued to take new patients, while Carterton, Kuripuni, Whaiora, and Greytown have closed their books to new patients.

A Wairarapa DHB community and public health committee agenda said the most significant waitlist was for Whaiora Medical Centre with 134 people waiting for a spot. Of those on the waitlist, 16 people were not enrolled anywhere at all.

A June DHB board paper said Whaiora Medical Centre was expected to recruit one new general practitioner in July and would re-evaluate its enrolments status at that point.

It had about 250 people on its waiting list, prioritised based on new baby National Immunisation Register nominations.

The agenda said Ministry of Health data showed 49,088 people were living in the area covered by Wairarapa DHB.

“Of these, 1127 people [two per cent] are not enrolled in any public health organisation.”

It said for Maori, 707, or 8 per cent, of people were not enrolled at any public health organisation.

The agenda said 30 people from the Pacifica community were not enrolled in any public health organisation, which equated to 3 per cent of Pacifica residing in Wairarapa.

It said 4 per cent of patients were from outside Wairarapa with 2 per cent enrolled in Mid Central DHB.

The agenda said recruitment efforts continued across Wairarapa for general practitioners, while a national shortage of general practitioners remained.

A Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners workforce survey published earlier this year found that nearly one-third [31 per cent] of respondents rated themselves as “high” on the burn-out scale.

There was an about nine per cent increase in high-level burn-out, shifting from 22 per cent in 2016 to 31 per cent in 2020.

The survey found respondents reporting high burn-out were more likely to be aged from 40 to 64 years, a practice owner or partner, and working full-time.

The Wairarapa DHB agenda said some planned responses to the general practitioner shortage included ongoing engagement with the Medical Council through Tu Ora’s medical director and the Wairarapa general practitioner liaison.

It said there had also been continued communications with Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty and Immigration New Zealand to improve barriers at a national level.

The agenda said Wairarapa DHB and Tu Ora Compass Health were supporting registered nurses to become prescribers.

“This will enable the nurse practitioner workforce to focus on reducing the load on general practitioners, freeing up routine appointments where a prescription is usually needed.”

It said the three DHB project would be rolled out to primary care in Wairarapa next year.

“To date, nine nurses from three practices have applied for the training.”



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