Tokoroa doctor talking to New Zealand contenders

By Martin Johnston

The country doctor whose ad for a colleague who could earn a startling $400,000 a year went global after it was reported in the Herald is talking to several New Zealand contenders for the post.

Doctor groups are choking on the reported income offer from the Tokoroa Family Health clinic, which they say is far in excess of the norm for GPs.

READ MORE: The 'trash' $400,000 job applicants: What do they know about Tokoroa?

"A more realistic salary range matched to a manageable workload including reasonable after-hours rosters would be between $150,000 and $230,000," said the Rural General Practice Network.

On Tuesday, the Herald reported that the Tokoroa clinic's 61-year-old Dr Alan Kenny, a GP in the town for 30 years, who was recruited from Britain, had received no applications for the job, which he attributed to a perception of rural general practice being a dead-end job.

The position was advertised as being four days a week with 12 weeks' annual leave and Dr Kenny said there was no weekend or night work but the work load would be heavy. Describing his own work, Dr Kenny, a partner in the practice, said he saw 43 patients last Monday, working from 8.30am to 6pm without a lunch break.

After the story was picked up by media around the world, Dr Kenny said he had been flooded with international applications from countries including Bosnia, India and Brazil - but most were "trash".

He declined to be interviewed for this story.

Hugh Kininmonth, chief executive of Hauraki Primary Health Organisation, of which Dr Kenny's clinic is a member, said applications had come from "virtually half the countries of the world. There are about four or five pretty serious contenders. I'm reasonably confident there is a solution in the offing".

All of the short-listed applicants were in New Zealand; some were foreign-trained, some did their medical training in New Zealand.

Tokoroa Family Health is in the Government's "very-low-cost-access", free under-6 and free under-13 schemes, which provide higher state subsidies in return for keeping fees low or, in the case of the child schemes, not charging fees at all. The clinic's published fees are zero for children to age 17, and $16 for older teens and adults - lower than the permitted fees, which are a maximum of $12 for children aged 13 to 17, and $17.50 for adults.

"The partners have been very conscious of the low-income status of their population and have done everything they can to keep [fees] as low as possible," said Mr Kininmonth.

He estimated clinics in the very-low-cost-access scheme receive 70 to 90 per cent of their income from per-patient "capitation" payments from the Government, which range from $63.65 to $591.89 a year, depending on the gender, age and other factors of enrolled patients.

- NZ Herald

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