We advocate for, promote, maintain, and support the critical components of Rural General Practice teams including:
We provide and sustain a sense of connectivity across Rural General Practice teams and their families, that enables peer-to-peer and pastoral support for members and their families. Our Chapter provides rurally focused clinical expertise and advice to Hauora Taiwhenua Management, Council and other Chapters in matters of both organisational and government policies and their implementation.
We support the National PRIME Committee and our members who represent the interests of all PRIME providers on the committee by collaborating with rural communities and wider rural provider-associated organisations including other Chapters of Hauora Taiwhenua, to achieve rurally focused and researched health and wellbeing outcomes.
In 2023 we carried out the first, of what is planned to be an annual, survey of the “State of Rural General Practice” in New Zealand. In this first year we received a 63% response rate (122/193) of practices. We hope to improve further on this in future years. It is important to recognise that the results are only indicative of the general state of rural practice as the respondents were self-selecting and the surveys were completed by a sole representative of each practice, often the practice manager. Also note that not all respondent practices answered every question, and we have indicated response rates in the results where appropriate.
The value of this survey will be in tracking trends across future years. Thank you to the Rural General Practice Chapter for helping design and promote this survey to its membership.
Find below a snapshot of some of the data that was collated.
Dr Grahame Jelley is the former Northern North Island representative on the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network Board.
Having completed my secondary education in Zimbabwe, I qualified from the University of Cape Town in South Africa in 1983. I have worked as a Rural Practitioner for 30 years in mission hospital service, regional rural hospital service in South Africa, large corporate medical services and in solo general practice in Zimbabwe. Arriving in New Zealand in 2000 as a DHB employed General Practitioner in Westport, the Bay of Plenty in 2004 and Kerikeri Northland since 2014. I have served as a volunteer GP in the Cook Islands at Aitutaki Base Hospital. I have been actively involved with the Eastern Bay of Plenty PHO and Primary Health Alliance and subsequently te tai Tokerau PHO Board. I have more recently mixed my GP work with Clinical Advisor to Planning and Funding with the Bay of Plenty DHB, clinical Directore Te Tai Tokerau PHO and most recently clinical Advisor Mahitahi Hauora Primary Health Entity.
I am married to Renene a nurse and have two children Courtney and a son Brendan and more recently our first mokopuna Preston. I love sailing and other outdoor activities. I continue to enjoy the opportunities afforded to me through to contributing positively to the Board of the RGPN and the advocacy for wider rural General Practice teams and their communities.
My name is Gemma Hutton, I am a Nurse Practitioner in Twizel and continue to provide Telehealth/Locum support for the West Coast which was the area where I started my rural journey.
The majority of my career has been in rural health. I was a former board member of RGPN and I remain involved in advocating for rural health within my local area.
Dr Robin Baird is a rural GP working in Te Kauwhata, North Waikato. Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dr Baird trained in Edinburgh and Scottish Borders. He has been in New Zealand now for 10 years. He enjoys the professional range afforded by rural practice (clinics in aged-care centre, college, corrections facility) and the opportunity to collaborate with other providers to deliver quality health service. He works with Pinnacle PHO in a GP leader role and volunteers on Board of local Community House. His interests include clinical governance, lifestyle medicine, food, tramping, travel and bridge. He appreciates the sense of welcome he has had arriving in Aotearoa and is excited at the opportunity to lend some support to rural general practice.
Lives in Southland, and grew up in Fiordland living there in times where the nearest General Practitioner was in Lumsden, at that time an hour and a half from Manapouri and Te Anau. This gave me a strong insight into issues of rural people’s issues of equity in access of health care and equity in access to a general practice. I was a previous Chair of NZRGPN and strong advocate for Rural General Practice, practitioners and the health care teams working in rural New Zealand.
Since 2009 I have been the Invercargill Coordinator for the General Practice and Rural Health Department of the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago; teaching and organizing medical students who have their placements in Invercargill general practices. For 20 years I have been associated with Roxburgh Medical Trust as a contractor providing PRIME and relieving as a Rural Nurse in the practice and District. As well for the past 10 years I have spent several months a year working casually as a Rural Nurse Specialist for the West Coast DHB in their South Westland Area Practice and also occasionally in the Buller region, in-between teaching students.
I have a Masters in Rural and Remote Nursing, and am committed to the support of rural teams to enable their sustainability. I have been involved in a number of projects both at a national and local level to raise the profile of rural practitioners and am committed to equitable funding of these services to ensure rural communities have equitable access to wellbeing and health care.
Wilson is a final year medical student at the University of Otago, currently based in Dunedin Hospital. Raised on a sheep and beef farm on the Taieri Plains, Wilson is passionate about improving the wellbeing of rural communities, and ensuring they have equitable access to quality health services. When Wilson is not studying, he can be found in the woolshed on the handpiece or ringing up firewood with his chainsaw. For the last 5 years he has been heavily involved with the promotion of health careers to rural secondary school students and developing interest in the rural sector amongst those studying health careers at the tertiary level.
I grew up in a village in England where my parents were both doctors and together provided 24 hour cover in their country general practice. My early experiences immersed me in medicine, especially as for the first ten years of my life our family lived in a two-storey house with the surgery on the ground floor. Thus, from an early age I observed the art and science of medicine, and the special relationship that doctors had with their patients in a rural setting.
I trained at St Batholomew’s Hospital in London and later moved to New Zealand to do the GP training scheme. I enjoyed the then compulsory 4-month rural attachment then most of the three placements for the year, but at the time the barrier of on call commitments was too great for a young female GP with children and a husband who worked in town to pursue the option of continuing work in this sector. After running a solo practice in Christchurch for many years I have returned to my roots and become a rural GP in North Canterbury. I have lived on a 30-acre lifestyle block near Rangiora for 25 years and am currently the clinical leader at Amberley Medical Centre.
I have a passion for teaching and encouraging medical students and registrars to consider the benefits for themselves and their patients to working in the rural sector. I have a clear understanding of past and current barriers for rural GPs and a desire to use my skills and experience to work towards finding solutions to these.
This is your opportunity to be part of a strong advocacy voice for Rural General Practice which is backed up by the entire rural team including rural communities and in partnership with Māori. We know that there are changes and challenges ahead, perhaps more now than ever before. Having been on NZRGPN Board for the last 12 years and still working as a rural GP I am well aware of these challenges. This is why I am excited that we have this opportunity. We know that our rural advocacy voice can never be strong enough on our own and also that Rural General Practice needs a specific focus on it in order to thrive. I believe being in this Chapter/Te Whare Taumata as part of Hauora Taiwhenua/Rural Health Network enables us to do this. Our advocacy has helped put “Rural” into the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill so that we will have a Rural Health Strategy for which there will be accountability. General Practice is a crucial part of this strategy, please join us to be part of how that develops so we can get great health outcomes for rural people in a sustainable way which values the workforce.
-Dr Fiona Bolden
The founding dozen GPs who came together as a group in Canterbury in 1987 for mutual support and to lobby various ministers of health about the paucity of rural services, conditions and funding to our respective communities, could never have imagined the extent of its evolution to Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network.
The combined voices of NZ rural health communities, rural health providers and strong partnership with Maori is an exciting development, which presents our strongest united voice to Government. The first win is the last minute change of heart by Government, to recognize rural as an equity group and include a rural strategy into the new NZ health organisation. Fantastic achievement!
-Dr Janne Bills, East Otago Health
The formation of Te Whare Taumata Takutanga Taiwhenua ( Rural General Practice Chapter) and the wider Hauora Taiwhenua network creates the “One Voice” keeping the health and wellbeing of rural communities in the spotlight that we have wanted for years.
By collecting together general practice teams, other primary care providers, hospital services, communities and industry bodies to confidently address what matters to people and communities and affirm the importance of community based health teams to the vitality of provincial and rural Aotearoa New Zealand.
It’s so exciting to be part of this movement ! Join us !
-Dr Jo Scott-Jones, GP Opotiki, Pinnacle MHN Medical Director
“The Rural General Practice Network arose from the perceived need for rural General Practice advocacy and pastoral connection for rural General Practitioners and their families. From small beginnings, led by wise practitioners with significant future vision , the Network has grown significantly in its stature and its function over the last 30 years. As the active rural advocate and holder of the rural workforce support contracts from the Ministry the Rural General Practice Network has had the foresight again to move strategically into the future with its support and delivery of the Hauora Taiwhenua organisation. As a longstanding member of the Rural General Practice Network and more recently an active board member I have seen, first-hand, the value of strong and common voices when advocacy for the challenges of rural practice and community wellbeing are concerned. Strengthening the voice with interdisciplinary and strong community voices alongside rural General Practice will enable a rurally focused strategy for wellbeing to come to fruition.
Carrying forward the representation of General Practice membership of the Rural General Practice Network into Hauora Taiwhenua Te Whare Taumata Takutanga Taiwhenua (Rural General Practice Chapter) we will continue to honour the aspirations of those early pioneers who had the foresight to bring us together collegially. It is through learning from the steps taken by our Tupuna/forefathers that we safely navigate our present and future steps towards success.”
-Dr Grahame Jelley