Wairarapa has the lowest number of doctors in the country for its population, with less than half of the national average.

That is according to the Medical Council, which released the results of the New Zealand workforce surveys for 2013 and 2014 last week.

The report showed the number of doctors working in New Zealand, along with their location, gender and ethnicity.

With a total of 15,366 active doctors in 2014, there was an average of 340 doctors per population of 100,000.


In Wairarapa, with 67 doctors covering the district, there was just 157 for every 100,000 people.

Comparatively Auckland had a total of 478 doctors per 100,000 people, Otago followed with 391 and Wellington came in third with 385 doctors.

Interim director Wairarapa Health Services Jill Stringer said Wairarapa District Health Board (DHB) was one of the smaller DHBs in the country.

"[It] is generally compared with Tairawhiti, Whanganui, West Coast and South Canterbury and you will see that our figures are more closely aligned to these areas than our larger more urban neighbours, whose figures will include a significant number of resident private specialists."

Wairarapa, however, did not have the lowest number of general practitioners (GPs) per population, with higher GP to population ratios than Waikato, Taranaki, MidCentral and the Hutt.

Ms Stringer said this was "of great benefit to our community, as most healthcare actually happens outside of hospitals".

"The DHB tries to work closely with primary care to provide the best healthcare system possible for our population."

Wairarapa Hospital was a "secondary level hospital", with a High Dependency Unit rather than an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Ms Stringer said Wairarapa did not have the population numbers to support an ICU, and the low number of doctors was influenced by the close proximity of Wellington and Palmerston North.

"This means it is feasible to both refer people to a tertiary centre for care and have visiting consultants come to Wairarapa Hospital to provide an outreach service for those areas of medicine where we don't have the population to support a fulltime local service.

"Those visiting specialists would not be counted in this survey as they are not resident here."

There were 22 visiting specialists to Wairarapa, including a respiratory consultant and a twice yearly pacemaker clinic, meaning people needing the follow-up services would not need to travel out of the region.

"Given the extent of our visiting services, the actual number of doctors providing services in the Wairarapa as opposed to resident in the Wairarapa, brings us up on much more of a par with our contemporaries."

Ms Stringer said the survey was "a great national snapshot".

Its data showed that more than 42 per cent of doctors in 2014 were women.

Ms Stringer said the Wairarapa DHB gender information taken over the last two years indicated a 50/50 split.

The number of active doctors in New Zealand increased by 2.7 per cent in 2014 from 14,964 in 2013.

Doctors who identified themselves as Maori rose to 3.2 per cent from 2.7 per cent in 2013 and the proportion of Pasifika doctors increased to 2.0 per cent.

Doctors identifying as Chinese dropped to 4.9 per cent from 5.1 per cent in 2013.