Three Rivers hires new doctors

WELCOME ABOARD: Doctor Roslyn Gathercole, from England, says she feels at home in Gisborne and decided to stay. Dr Gathercole is one of three doctors at Three Rivers Medical. Picture by Brenan Thomas

AS GP shortages continue to affect the country one provincial medical centre is bucking the trend.

Three Rivers Medical has added three permanent GPs to its staff with doctors from Mahia, Auckland and England.

“It’s absolutely fabulous to have these three talented doctors added to our staff,” says Three Rivers Medical co-owner and GP Simon Spenceley.

“It means more choice and appointment times for patients and the addition of three unique sets of skills to the practice. It’s been a long time since we added just one permanent doctor — and now we have added three.”

The significance of retaining three highly qualified doctors in a relatively remote area such as Gisborne cannot be understated.

“Gisborne faces skilled labour shortages across a number of sectors including forestry, engineering, and transport, and the health sector is no different.”

Three Rivers Medical has 18,500 enrolled patients making it one of the largest general practices in the country.

The additional GPs bring its number of permanent doctors to 13.

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has been raising concerns about a looming GP shortage for a number of years.

College President Dr Tim Malloy was thrilled to learn that Three Rivers Medical has had success in attracting new staff.

“The shortage across the country has partly arisen because fewer GPs were trained during the 1990s, which means the current workforce is ageing and heading towards retirement,” he said.

“It’s also partly because many of our younger GPs are working part-time – which means we need more GPs just to maintain the current number of GP hours worked.”

College research shows that 57 percent of GPs across New Zealand are aged 50 or over, compared to 1998 when this group accounted for just 16 percent of the GP workforce.

“We also know that 44 percent of our current GPs intend to retire in the next 10 years,” said Dr Malloy, a rural GP himself.

“In Tairawhiti, according to last year’s workforce survey data, 53 percent of respondents reported having a vacancy for a GP and 35 percent indicated they intend to retire within the next five years.”

“One of the perpetual problems faced by our sector, and many others too, is the challenge of attracting people to live in rural and provincial centres.”

Three GPs stayed

But the attraction of sunny relaxed Gisborne is exactly why the three new permanent Three Rivers Medical GPs have stayed.

Dr Roslyn Gathercole, a new GP at Three Rivers Medical, originally came to Gisborne on a four-month education programme from her native England.

But she is still here and is one of three GPs just added to the permanent staff at Three Rivers.

“I felt at home straight away and love this place,’’ she said.

Dr Gathercole carried out her doctor training at Wessex School of General Practice in Hampshire.

Doctors, who have done five years of study and two years of general rotation, can then do three years of general practice study.

Students in Wessex have the chance to complete some of their general practice training in New Zealand, deep in the South Island or in sunny Gisborne.

She chose Gisborne and loved the people and lifestyle so much she stayed.

“I came on the United Kingdom education programme from the south coast of England and it was meant to be for only four months.

“I really enjoy the work here and the challenging and diverse population we have. You face interesting medical challenges due to the high demand for secondary care.”

Dr Nick Wright, originally from Auckland, led a Gisborne research team studying the effects of an all-you-can-eat plant-based diet.

Gisborne has the highest rates of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in New Zealand, and the highly acclaimed research was published this year in Nutrition and Diabetes.

Dr Wright remains committed to ongoing research but he says there are also other reasons for staying in Gisborne.

“The last time it took more than five minutes to drive to work was a distant memory. I suppose you get used to being spoilt with these things.

“It’s a fun environment to work in and while it’s not without its challenges, as a GP, I get to see a wider variety of patients than if I was working in the centre of a big city.”

Dr Hiria Nielsen, Rongomaiwahine, Ngati Porou, is from Mahia.

She graduated as a doctor in 2012 and with her young family is now settled in Gisborne. She can’t think of anywhere else she’d like to work.

“The continuity of care is good for patients and I love my growing list. I get told by patients they get weary of telling different doctors the same story but I already know their story and we can pick up where we left off.

“I can see exactly what improvements are being made over time and change things where necessary.”

“Having my baby here secured the deal for me. I love Gisborne, everything you need is here.”

AS GP shortages continue to affect the country one provincial medical centre is bucking the trend.

Three Rivers Medical has added three permanent GPs to its staff with doctors from Mahia, Auckland and England.

“It’s absolutely fabulous to have these three talented doctors added to our staff,” says Three Rivers Medical co-owner and GP Simon Spenceley.

“It means more choice and appointment times for patients and the addition of three unique sets of skills to the practice. It’s been a long time since we added just one permanent doctor — and now we have added three.”

The significance of retaining three highly qualified doctors in a relatively remote area such as Gisborne cannot be understated.

“Gisborne faces skilled labour shortages across a number of sectors including forestry, engineering, and transport, and the health sector is no different.”

Three Rivers Medical has 18,500 enrolled patients making it one of the largest general practices in the country.

The additional GPs bring its number of permanent doctors to 13.

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has been raising concerns about a looming GP shortage for a number of years.

College President Dr Tim Malloy was thrilled to learn that Three Rivers Medical has had success in attracting new staff.

“The shortage across the country has partly arisen because fewer GPs were trained during the 1990s, which means the current workforce is ageing and heading towards retirement,” he said.

“It’s also partly because many of our younger GPs are working part-time – which means we need more GPs just to maintain the current number of GP hours worked.”

College research shows that 57 percent of GPs across New Zealand are aged 50 or over, compared to 1998 when this group accounted for just 16 percent of the GP workforce.

“We also know that 44 percent of our current GPs intend to retire in the next 10 years,” said Dr Malloy, a rural GP himself.

“In Tairawhiti, according to last year’s workforce survey data, 53 percent of respondents reported having a vacancy for a GP and 35 percent indicated they intend to retire within the next five years.”

“One of the perpetual problems faced by our sector, and many others too, is the challenge of attracting people to live in rural and provincial centres.”

Three GPs stayed

But the attraction of sunny relaxed Gisborne is exactly why the three new permanent Three Rivers Medical GPs have stayed.

Dr Roslyn Gathercole, a new GP at Three Rivers Medical, originally came to Gisborne on a four-month education programme from her native England.

But she is still here and is one of three GPs just added to the permanent staff at Three Rivers.

“I felt at home straight away and love this place,’’ she said.

Dr Gathercole carried out her doctor training at Wessex School of General Practice in Hampshire.

Doctors, who have done five years of study and two years of general rotation, can then do three years of general practice study.

Students in Wessex have the chance to complete some of their general practice training in New Zealand, deep in the South Island or in sunny Gisborne.

She chose Gisborne and loved the people and lifestyle so much she stayed.

“I came on the United Kingdom education programme from the south coast of England and it was meant to be for only four months.

“I really enjoy the work here and the challenging and diverse population we have. You face interesting medical challenges due to the high demand for secondary care.”

Dr Nick Wright, originally from Auckland, led a Gisborne research team studying the effects of an all-you-can-eat plant-based diet.

Gisborne has the highest rates of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in New Zealand, and the highly acclaimed research was published this year in Nutrition and Diabetes.

Dr Wright remains committed to ongoing research but he says there are also other reasons for staying in Gisborne.

“The last time it took more than five minutes to drive to work was a distant memory. I suppose you get used to being spoilt with these things.

“It’s a fun environment to work in and while it’s not without its challenges, as a GP, I get to see a wider variety of patients than if I was working in the centre of a big city.”

Dr Hiria Nielsen, Rongomaiwahine, Ngati Porou, is from Mahia.

She graduated as a doctor in 2012 and with her young family is now settled in Gisborne. She can’t think of anywhere else she’d like to work.

“The continuity of care is good for patients and I love my growing list. I get told by patients they get weary of telling different doctors the same story but I already know their story and we can pick up where we left off.

“I can see exactly what improvements are being made over time and change things where necessary.”

“Having my baby here secured the deal for me. I love Gisborne, everything you need is here.”

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