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N Z Med J. 2001 Nov 9;114(1143):492-5.

New Zealand rural general practitioners 1999 survey--part 1: an overview of the rural doctor workforce and their concerns.

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Department of General Practice, Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago.



To obtain current information about New Zealand rural general practitioners (GPs) and their localitites.


An anonymous postal questionnaire was mailed out to 559 rural and semi-rural GPs in November 1999, and non-responders were sent three reminders.


Of the 417 completed questionnaires returned (response rate 75%), 338 were from rural GPs(Rural Ranking Scale score > or = 35 points) and these formed the study group. The mean age was 44 years, 72% were male, and 93% were of New Zealand European ethnicity. Less than 50%had graduated from a New Zealand medical school with Britain (30%) and South Africa (11%) providing most of the foreign- trained rural GPs. Only 59% had received vocational training in general practice. The majority worked fulltime (79%) and owned their practice (78%), while 133 (39%) worked part time as rural hospital doctors and 72 (21%) provided intra-partum obstetric care. Over two thirds rated lack of locum relief, onerous oncall,and rural GP shortages as 'important' or 'very important' problems, with one third stating that more rural GPswere needed in their locality.


This, only the second national survey of rural GPs, provides a comprehensive overview of New Zealand rural general practice in November 1999. It confirms that the major current problem is an under supply of rural GPs, causing overwork and stress in those remaining.

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