Capitation funding increase falls miserably short for rural general practice

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network supports the General Practice Leaders Forum’s response to the proposed capitation funding increase for general practices which falls miserably short.

The proposed recommendation, discussed during the PHO Services Agreement Amendment Protocol (PSAAP) group meeting yesterday, fell so short that a group of general practice leaders walked out of the funding negotiations.

Over the last few years, the annual capitation increase has failed to keep up with the costs of running general practices and the gap continues to widen between government funding of primary care and the costs to provide general practice services in the community.

Network Chair Dr Fiona Bolden says the offer of an increase in general practice funding of only 3% is well short of what is required to continue to provide core health services particularly for rural communities.

“Already these core services are under severe pressure in many areas with people sometimes being unable to register with local practices as they have reached their maximum capacity.”

Many rural general practices are often serving communities with multiple and complex health needs, which require dedicated time, attention and resources.

Along with years of inadequate funding, rural general practices are facing critical workforce shortages, burn out, and a lack of pay parity across both medical and nursing teams.

“With the huge strain that has been put on hospitals as well during these COVID times it seems unthinkable that general practice has not been even offered an increase in core funding of the basic 6.9% which would only reflect inflation,” Dr Bolden says.

“This will only exacerbate inequity in healthcare across the system and serves as a further reminder of how little value has been attached to your local family healthcare team.”