New Zealand general practitioners' characteristics and workload: the National Primary Medical Care Survey

Antony Raymont, Roy Lay-Yee, Janet Pearson, Peter Davis
New Zealand Medical Journal 2005 May 20, 118 (1215): U1475

AIMS: To describe the characteristics and workload of New Zealand general medical practitioners (GPs).

METHODS: Data were collected from a stratified random sample of GPs as part of the The National Primary Medical Care Survey carried out in 2001.

RESULTS: Data were submitted by 244 practitioners; a 62% response rate. Women made up 63% of the GP workforce aged under 40 years, but only 19% of those aged over 50 years. New Zealand graduates made up 69% of GPs; graduates from other areas occupied particular niches in the GP workforce. Each week, GPs worked (on average) 4 days and saw 102 patients. Eighty percent undertook after-hours work, and the average on-call roster was 1-in-8. At least 8% of visits to GPs occurred after-hours. Parameters of workload were lower for women and for those working in community-owned clinics, and higher for those working outside cities.

CONCLUSIONS: An increasing proportion of GPs are women, and more GPs are working part time. In addition, if the changes in primary healthcare add to GPs' responsibilities, then more doctors will be needed. At present, GPs' workload is high in rural areas, which suggests inadequate recruitment; the distribution of GPs is a more important workforce issue than absolute numbers.

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