NZ to hike wages for trainee GPs to lure more talent

The move aims to close the 'biggest barrier' preventing workers from joining the industry

NZ to hike wages for trainee GPs to lure more talent

The New Zealand government has announced a wage hike for general practitioners (GPs) in a bid to encourage more medical graduates to pursue the career and improve the workforce's numbers. It follows the government's earlier pledge to increase the number of GPs trained in New Zealand from 200 to 300 this year.

"I'm pleased to confirm that, after discussions with the Royal College of General Practitioners, measures are being put in place to do that," said Health Minister Andrew Little.

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According to the minister, the new wage hike will see to it that doctors who choose to train as GPs will be paid as much as their hospital counterparts.  The wage hike comes as a new review found that trainee GPs are getting paid less than registrars who are working in hospitals, according to Little, who called the gap the "biggest barrier to young doctors going into general practice."

"That pay gap will be closed, to bring the pay of first-year GP registrars in line with that of hospital registrars," Little said.

In addition to the wage hike, Little said funding will also be increased so the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) so it can pay specialist GPs two-and-a-half hours more to train first-year registrars. GPs hosting 12-week community training modules will also be paid hosting fees of $3,600, Little said.

The RNZCGP welcomed the initiative, saying it was a "significant step in the right direction" to lure more doctors to specialise in general practice.

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"The college has been proactively suggesting solutions to mitigate the specialist GP workforce shortage, and we are absolutely delighted that some relief is coming," said RNZCGP chief executive Lynne Hayman in a statement. "Attracting more doctors to choose general practice is essential for providing medical care in the community."

New Zealand recently unveiled measures to curb the staffing crisis in its healthcare system, such as covering re-registration costs for returning health workers and making it easier for overseas-trained doctors to come to New Zealand.

"Together with the things already under way to make it easier for overseas-trained doctors to come to New Zealand and get registered and practising, these measures will increase the number of GPs working in our communities to keep New Zealanders healthy and out of hospital," Little said.

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