According to the latest workforce survey by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, the average GP is working almost one day per week without pay and is at an increased risk of burnout.
The 2022 General Practice Workforce Survey found that New Zealand GPs work around 35.9 hours per week, but only get paid for 28.7 hours. This means they are working 7.2 hours unpaid.
College president and specialist GP, Samantha Murton, noted that every GP is doing extra work outside of their normal hours, even during lunch breaks and weekends. The 2022 General Practice Workforce Survey was the first to ask New Zealand GPs about their total hours worked per week. The results show that GPs are working more than they have in the past due to shortages, disease complexity, and delays in referrals to secondary care.
The GP remuneration is linked to patient consultations, and it seems reforming this outdated general practice funding model could be a solution.
The 2022 survey also revealed that 37% of New Zealand GPs intend to retire in the next five years (up from 31% in the 2020 survey). These findings were presented to Health Minister Ayesha Verrall. Solutions such as training more medical students and higher remuneration for specialist GPs are urgently needed.
New Zealand needs more GPs urgently
3300 GPs had responded to the 2022 General Practice Workforce Survey, which is a record rate (72% of members).
48 percent of these GPs rate themselves as burned out, which is double the 22 percent of the 2016 survey. The survey also indicates that 30% of GPs are currently aged 60 or above, while 37% of the respondents plan to retire within the next five years.
One solution to these GP workforce issues would be “massively up the number of medical school graduates.
How to make the most of the time you spend
Dr Brier at Mackay Base Hospital has reduced the time he spends on documentation from around 4-5 minutes per patient to 2.5 minutes per patient. The hospital is now saving one hour per clinician per shift using Dragon Medical One speech recognition.
On average, clinicians using speech recognition reported creating documentation up to 40% faster compared to handwritten and typed clinical notes.
While Dragon Medical One has helped Dr Brier become more efficient, he believes it’s also enabled him to enhance the quality of his documentation.