Is your GP a super hero? Tariana Turia's is.
14 May 2019
We all need one, most of us have had the same one for years, they know our most personal details, and are trained to
care for us. Who are these mysterious superheroes? They’re your GPs.
This Sunday [19 May] is World Family Doctor Day, a day to celebrate and acknowledge what your family doctor, your GP,
does for you and your loved ones.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners trains GPs and has more than 5,000 GPs as members. College
President Dr Samantha Murton is keen to make sure GPs get a well-deserved pat on the back this week, saying GPs are at
the heart of medicine.
“Being a GP is such a rewarding job,” says Dr Murton. “GPs walk alongside patients at every step of their journey –
caring for them for the whole of their lives. It is a privileged position.
“I love being a GP because it allows me to help people. I know this is something that drives our members and I often
hear stories about amazing GPs going to extraordinary lengths to help their patients.
“It’s always an extremely busy job. We have a lot to do in every 15 minute appointment, and you never quite know what
issue you’ll see next - there is no such thing as a typical day. What’s more, we have to bring our A-game every single
day, because good health is so fundamental and important.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, you need your health and you need a GP. Even if you don’t visit one
often, it’s likely your parents, or children, or friends do – and you want them to get the best care possible.
“This weekend we’re celebrating the contribution our GPs make to the New Zealand health system and the millions of
people who are our patients. We’d love Kiwis to get behind us and share their positive GP experience on our Facebook
page or by emailing email@example.com.”
Dame Hon Tariana Turia’s personal story:
A personal story about GPs who care
Doctors who listen and care are worth their weight in gold according to Honorary Fellow Dame Tariana Turia DNZM. And she
knows first-hand what a difference that makes when a loved one is ill, having recently lost her beloved husband George.
George, who was fit and healthy most of his life, suffered a major heart attack in September 2015. Arriving at the
hospital in the middle of the night, anxious and scared, Tariana was shocked at the no-nonsense, blunt conversation she
had with the first clinician who spoke with her and her family.
Thankfully, Dual Fellow Dr Tom Dawson was also working at ICU that night, and he provided a much more empathic approach.
“He was just so lovely and comforting,” says Tariana. “He gave us some options for George’s care, but he encouraged us
to make decisions that worked for us, as a family. He was reassuring and he helped empower us to decide what was best. I
can’t thank him enough for helping us. It was a terribly traumatic time, and having someone who listened to us was
While Tom Dawson is not Tariana’s usual doctor, she says she is grateful he was there that night when they needed
“My usual GP is Dr Satya Prakash and he’s also wonderful. He’s taken good care of us since we moved back to Whanganui 10
years ago, but I have to say he has been absolutely worth his weight in gold since George became ill.
“He put George’s needs at the heart of everything, and was in our corner all the way. He would call the hospital if
there was something in George’s care plan that he didn’t agree with, and he kept a close eye on his progress.
“Because he knew us, he could tell when things were out of the ordinary. When George was hesitant to go back to
hospital, Dr Prakash was able to soothe him and explain what was going to happen in a way that gave us confidence.
“He went the extra mile and he listened to us. When I was concerned about George’s medications, he took my concerns on
board and we agreed how we would monitor the situation and make adjustments where we could.
“George passed away two weeks ago. I’m terribly sad to lose him, but I’m grateful that we had a great life together and
that he didn’t linger too long when he was ill.
“Dr Prakash called around yesterday to bring us flowers and a basket of goodies for our grandchildren. He’s just so
“Families need to be trusted as they know what’s best for their loved ones, and health professionals should be listening