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Rural GPs providing on-call services 24 hours a day will be helped by a Southern Primary Health Organisation initiative, PHO chief executive Ian Macara says.
Mr Macara said project facilitator Valerie Meyer, of Queenstown, had been hired for six months for the joint PHO-Southern District Health Board after-hours GP project, which had a $40,000 budget.
While Ms Meyer would liaise with all Otago and Southland GPs providing after-hours care, a focus was GPs in isolated areas, some of whom were available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The project would try to improve rural GPs' lifestyles, which might include obtaining more locum cover for weekends. The PHO would look to reprioritise funding for this, he added.
The issue was important because younger GPs coming into rural areas were less happy with a heavy after-hours responsibility. This could lead to recruitment and retention issues, Mr Macara said.