FRNZCGP and Vocational Registration

FRNZCGP = Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners


The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) is the national body in New Zealand concerned with standards of General Practice and education for General Practitioners.  After an extensive training and assessment process, usually taking a total of 11 years to achieve, Vocationally Registered specialist GPs must continue a three year cycle of re-accreditation in order to maintain Fellowship, ensuring continuing medical education and sufficiently high standards of Quality Assurance for the Vocational Registration necessary to practise medicine independently.

It is no longer possible for a doctor to set up in General Practice without training specific to the field, just as in any other field of medicine.  It is also necessary to demonstrate that knowledge and skills (specific to General Practice) are being maintained in order to maintain Vocational Registration.  Doctors without Vocational Registration can only practise under supervision.

Does this mean that General Practice has become a specialty ?  YES, and Vocationally Registered GPs can be known as a "Specialist GP" or as I usually prefer "Consultant GP".  
The Medical Council of NZ has created the following definition of General Practice: "General Practice is an academic and scientific discipline with its own educational content, research, evidence base and clinical activity, and a clinical speciality orientated to primary care. It is personal, family, and community-orientated comprehensive primary care that includes diagnosis, continues over time, is anticipatory as well as responsive."
A GP has to have a working safe knowledge of every aspect of medicine which can be harder (and is certainly more interesting) than knowing a lot about one small area. In many countries this also means remuneration for Primary Care Physicians matches other specialties!

Does this mean fees will go up?  High quality medicine (including Primary Care) is not cheap. Complex consultations are likely to be more expensive unless government subsidies match the increasing cost of providing them. Providing "cheap" third world "barefoot doctor" services may sound attractive to politicians but this has been shown to increase downstream (secondary) costs.

However, the government has decided not to subsidise the cost of consultations, even when it claims to have under sixes "free". Most other subsidies are dependent on joining a PHO where fees are capped. This practice will not compromise on providing high quality care and so we are unable to offer PHO subsidies.   So the short answer is YES if you want quality (although we hope to keep the cost of brief consultations stable).

We have in fact kept our fees similar to the PHO capitation subsidy support PHO practices receive (before they add their patient fee). This has been at a significant cost to practice income so please do not complain about any fees. See Fees.

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