There have been no applications for a job in New Zealand, despite an astonishing package that most UK applicants would snap up in a heartbeat.
The vacancy, in Tokoroa on North Island, is for a GP. The salary is £191,000; the hours are four days a week, with no weekends or nights; and 12 weeks’ holiday is included. The successful applicant will also own half the practice.
Dr Alan Kenny took desperate measures after a recruitment agency tried and failed to find him a GP over the course of two years. Dr Kenny believes the lack of interest stems from the position not being in Auckland and coming with a gruelling workload.
He added that there seems to be a perception that a rural GP would be entering a dead-end career. Auckland has the biggest medical school; therefore, many trainee doctors come from wealthy families in the area. Dr Kenny believes there would be less stigma if the school recruited more trainees from rural areas.
Dr Kenny’s clinic has seen successful growth in the past two years, with patient numbers swelling to 6,000. This increase in workload has resulting in Dr Kenny cancelling his holidays, as he simply cannot recruit a GP to help with the demand. He often works from 8am to 6pm, with no breaks, and can sometimes see more than 40 patients a day – more than the recommended limit of 25 set by the Royal College of GPs.
Dr Kenny, who was recruited from the UK, said his daughter is the only New Zealander among the six doctors at his practice. He added that he loves his lifestyle and his work; however, he is under increasing strain when it comes to finding doctors.
This is not an isolated problem. According to a 2015 survey by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, 37% of rural practices had at least one vacancy compared with 42% in urban practices; however, the rural vacancies typically take longer to fill. The college’s chief executive, Helen Morgan-Banda, argued that feedback suggests it is only slightly more difficult to attract rural GPs, adding that doctors enjoy the diversity of a more remote practice.
The town of Tokoroa has a population of 13,600, which Dr Kenny also cites as one of the reasons he has found it difficult to recruit GPs for his practice.
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