RNZCGP membership survey 2003
The primary health care strategy has initiated major changes in the funding and structure of general practice and
Many general practitioners have joined Primary Health Organisations since their inception 18 months ago; two thirds
(184/268, 69%) of the respondents either belonged to, or intended to join, a PHO.
“The fast take up of PHO membership was prompted in part by expected funding improvements, economic necessity and the
apparent lack of a viable alternative,” College president Dr Jim Vause said.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ 2003 membership survey, provides a September 2003 snapshot of
GP’s views on workforce issues, as they adapt to new conditions driven by the primary health care strategy and the
formation of PHOs.
The survey’s response rate was 54% (268/500 randomly selected College members) with a ±6% margin of error at the 95%
confidence level. Although slightly more female than male GPs answered the survey, respondents were representative of
the whole sample with respect to age, ethnicity, practice location and place of qualification.
While some respondents were enthusiastic about their changing work conditions, over a third (117/268, 44%) found the
administration and paperwork associated with continual change particularly stressful. Respondents said that the
“bureaucratic burden” was increasing but not remunerated. Nevertheless, some described the clinical nature of general
practice (such as consulting with patients) as a continued source of job satisfaction.
Other key points:
Just over half the respondents were male (150/268, 56%)
Nearly three-quarters (190/268, 71%) identified themselves as ‘New Zealand European’
Most respondents’ principal medical work was as a general practitioner, either full-time (158/268, 59%) or part-time
Over half (149/268, 56%) had worked as a GP for more than 14 years
About half (150/268, 56%) spent 30 to 44 hours per week consulting in general practice (excluding on call)
Nearly all (251/268, 94%) participated in weekly continuing medical education and professional development activities
A third (82/268, 31%) spent time educating other health professionals each week.
Over three-quarters (208/268, 78%) of the respondents were working in group practices. The majority (222/268, 83%) were
in urban practices. Most (193/268, 72%) believed there was adequate primary and secondary health care support available
for their practices.
Around half (131/268, 49%) specified a general practitioner to patient ratio between 1:1500–2499. By comparison, the
Ministry of Health1 states that the average New Zealand doctor to patient ratio is 1:1230.
Half (132/268, 49%) of the respondents indicated that they intend to change their work situation (in some way) over the
next four years; they mentioned either changing the number of hours they worked in general practice, or retiring, or
taking up alternative medical work.