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New recruitment scheme supports rural health care

Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor says rural New Zealand will soon benefit from a new rural primary health care recruitment service.

Mr O'Connor today announced that the Ministry of Health has selected the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network as the preferred provider to recruit long-term and permanent general practitioners, and nurse practitioner placements in rural areas.

Contract negotiations on the terms and conditions will commence immediately, he told the General Practitioners Continuing Medical Education conference in Wairakei today.

"This is an important new plank in a raft of measures introduced by this Government to retain and recruit a skilled primary health care workforce to serve rural communities.

"The Rural Primary Health Care Recruitment Service is designed to help ease the burden and reduce the costs met by rural providers in recruiting primary health care practitioners to work in rural areas.

"Recruitment in rural primary health care settings can prove difficult and expensive for rural providers. It's hoped that by providing a national recruitment service, the process can be more efficient and effective.

"The new service will involve marketing rural New Zealand as an attractive destination for primary health care practitioners. It will proactively seek out general practitioners, locums, and nurse practitioners with experience in rural settings, in response to requests from rural providers," Mr O’Connor said.

This recruitment service is complementary to the Rural Locum Support Scheme, which is being extended for a further three years. The Rural GP Network is contracted to provide this service.

Mr O'Connor also said that the Government's rural funding package of $32 million over three years had now been fully committed. In the fourth and last reasonable roster round to relieve rural doctors and nurses working onerous hours, a total of $154,133 has been awarded to health services in Nelson/Marborough (Murchison Health Centre $81,153), South Canterbury (Oak House Medical Centre, Waimate $21,938), Hawkes Bay (Waipukurau Medical Centre $21,938), Taranaki (Inglewood Medical Centre $8044), and Canterbury (Oxford Medical Centre $21,060). This brings the total funding allocated to District Health Boards for 2003/04 to over $11 million, to support workforce retention and recruitment, and improve rosters.

Background

The Rural Primary Health Care Recruitment Service: Recruitment of primary health care practitioners to work in rural primary health care settings can prove difficult and expensive for rural providers. It is believed a national recruitment service will help ease the burden and reduce the costs met by rural providers and be more efficient and effective in recruiting primary health care practitioners to practice in rural New Zealand.

The Rural Primary Health Care Recruitment Service is limited to the recruitment of:

· General practitioners and longer term locums (contracted for three months or more); and

· Nurse practitioners with prescribing competency and experience in rural settings (contracted for three months or more).

This service is distinct from the rural locum support scheme, which provides eligible rural general practitioners with short term subsidised locum relief (two weeks a year).




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