Health Minister Andrew Little is defending his party's decision not to give 'rural' special legal status in the new health reform bill - Pae Ora Healthy Futures.
Doctors, nurses, receptionists, and other professionals working in general practice throughout New Zealand have been sworn at, threatened and in some cases physically assaulted as they maintain Covid safety precautions.
This abuse, says the General Practice Leaders Forum (GPLF), has included objects being thrown at General Practice staff and buildings being vandalised.
General practice has been key to the Covid-19 response for almost two years, with staff carrying out Covid swabs and vaccinations in addition to their normal workload serving the health needs of their communities.
"They are tired, stressed and nearing the end of their ability to cope at a personal level," says chair of the General Practice Leaders Forum Dr Fiona Bolden.
"Above all else they deserve respect, not abuse."
Members of the GPLF, comprising all major organisations representing General Practice, specialist GPs, nurses, and practice managers believe that the health and safety of practice of staff remains a priority.
GPLF promotes a Zero Tolerance approach to anyone who puts the safety of those staff at risk or who abuses acceptable standards of behaviour for anyone visiting their workplace.
The health and safety of practice staff is a priority, says GPLF, and general practice have a right to respond appropriately to anyone who knowingly endangers their safety. This may include filing a complaint with police, trespassing those people from their practice, and removing them from their patient list.
“New Zealanders can expect to be welcomed and treated with respect at their general practice and to receive necessary clinical care, regardless of their vaccination status,” says Bolden.
“General practice staff have earned the same level of respect from their patients.”