Thursday, 02 April 2020 13:08

COVID-19: Virus hits rural medical practices

Written by  David Anderson
Dalton Kelly. Dalton Kelly.

Questions are being raised about the level of medical care rural New Zealanders can access under COVID-19 alert level 4 restrictions.

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network says it is concerned that the COVID-19 outbreak will have a serious impact on rural New Zealanders ability to get the medical care they need compared to people who live in urban centres.  

The NZRGPN says it is working closely with rural healthcare practices to make sure they have the staff and resources they need to care for their patients. 

Chief executive, Dalton Kelly, says there is already have a fabulous pool of medical staff who are ready and able to help out across rural areas if things get worse. 

Kelly says the network is also receiving offers of help from urban healthcare professionals whose main jobs have slowed right down as surgical procedures are cancelled and number of patient consultations in practices have significantly reduced. 

“Many of New Zealand’s rural practices rely on a very small number of healthcare professionals and that number is dropping every year. Helping rural practices access the skills and expertise of urban doctors, nurses and practice managers will help ensure our rural communities and general practices get through this pandemic in good shape.”

Kelly says he’s aware of rural health professionals catching COVID-19 and that is having a significant impact on a region’s healthcare service.

“This morning I have emailed every rural general practice in New Zealand inviting them to let us know if they need additional staff to get through this time,” Kelly says. 

“We are in a fortunate position that we have a fantastic pool of highly-skilled healthcare professionals well and truly prepared to travel and support our rural communities during this period. We are also in discussion with the Ministry of Health seeking further financial support to reduce the extra costs for rural practices”

Any rural or provincial practices needing additional healthcare resources, or urban healthcare professionals seeking a rural posting, should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0800 695 628.

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