With 33 per cent of GPs earning less than $100,000 and 18 per cent less than $75,000 and working fewer hours, they are the least likely to suffer from burnout. Most likely to be burnt out are GPs earning more than $250,000; they are more likely to be male, have after-hours duty commitments and report poor work-life balance.

These are some of the findings released last week in the second report from the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice (RNZCGP) annual 2017 survey of members which had more than 2500 responses. The survey’s second report focuses on GP income, vacancies, practices with closed books and how many patients are believed to defer appointments due to cost.

The median income for a GP was once again between $100,000 and $125,000, with a quarter earning over $200,000 and 18 per cent earning less than $75,000. Earlier survey results indicated that the average number of hours worked by GPs was 35.2 hours – just over half (54 per cent) of GPs worked full-time and 46 per cent worked part-time (defined as working fewer than 36 hours per week).

The survey found that GPs earning between $250,000 and $275,000 were much more likely to report poor work-life balance (44 per cent) and be burnt out (41 per cent) then GPs earning less than $100,000 with only 12 per cent of those GPs reporting poor work-life balance and 17 per cent stating they are burnt out. GPs earning the median annual income and above were more likely to be male, work in larger practices and older. (Survey respondents were 46 per cent male and 54 per cent female and the median age was 52 years old.)

Other survey findings:

  • More than a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) reported they had a GP vacancy at their practice, with vacancies more likely at rural practices and those that weren’t GP-owned.
  • Ten per cent of practices were reported to have ‘closed books’; that is, they were not accepting new patient enrolments with these practices more likely to be small, urban, GP-owned practices.
  • Nearly a quarter of respondents reported working in practices which they considered more than half of its patients would meet the Ministry of Health’s ‘high needs’ criteria, but only 75 per cent of those respondents were in practices that are part of the Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) scheme.
  • Nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents said patients in the practices frequently deferred appointments because of cost, but this rose to 81 per cent of respondents working in high-needs practices that weren’t part of the VLCA scheme.
  • The vast majority (71 per cent) of respondents expressed concern about the negative impact of compliance activities required to meet performance targets.


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