Advocacy Hot Topic

National PRIME Committee


All about PRIME Services

The National PRIME Committee has had a productive year so far, and so I thought I’d share with you an update about its work over the past few months.

Before I go into the details of this, it might be helpful to let you know that the Committee is meeting monthly and has membership that includes Rural General Practices that are contracted to deliver PRIME, St John and FENZ, and Ministry of Health, Te Whatu Ora and ACC who are the funders of the service.

Our Network appoints not only the Chairperson, but also Rural General Practice members who are:

  • Mark Eager, Mobile Health
  • Dr Bryan MacLeod – Coromandel Family Health Centre
  • Dr James MacMillan-Armstrong – Fiordland Medical Centre
  • Dr Sarah Creegan – Waimate Medical Centre
  • Kate Stark – Nurse Practitioner Southland
  • Adele Robertson – Aotea Health Great Barrier Island
  • Buzz Burrell – rural GP
  • Bill Eschenbach – Waitaha PHO

Grant Davidson and I are also Committee Members. Dr Jeremy Webber attends when he is available.

The Committee also has a clinical sub-committee that meets monthly and reports back into the National PRIME Committee.

Review of PRIME

The advocacy of the Network and the National PRIME Committee over many years, resulted in one of the priority rural actions in Te Pae Tata Interim NZ Health Plan 2022 being:

“Review the Primary Response in Medical Emergencies model with ACC and develop integrated and responsive rural ambulance programmes to improve access to primary and community care services’’

Te Whatu Ora has begun work on this project, and I will endeavour to provide you with updates as it progresses over the next few months.

State of PRIME Services February 2023

In anticipation of the review, the Committee provided Te Whatu Ora with a report on the State of PRIME Services. The report details the work that has been on Committee agendas and includes information from a survey conducted in November 2022 that many PRIME providers contributed to. The key themes that came out of the survey – and other sources of information including meeting discussions are summarised as:

  1. PRIME services are vital to ensuring rural communities have access to timely emergency services.
  2. The rural health workforce crisis directly impacts all providers including St John and rural general practice.
  3. The well documented pressures on rural general practice and rural hospital services impact directly on PRIME service capacity.
  4. PRIME funding does not meet the costs of providing the service.

New Funding for Attending Medical Notifications or doing Telephone Triage

New funding for attending PRIME medical notifications, or doing a telephone triage, or consultation rather than attending in person was negotiated by Hauora Taiwhenua in July 2022. Since then, St John has endeavoured to make sure that all PRIME practices know how to claim for these aspects of PRIME responses. If you have any queries about this, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll see what I can do about getting you a response from the right person.

We will be keeping an eye on this to ensure that this funding is extended beyond the current financial year if no other improvements to PRIME funding have resulted from the proposed review.

Do you have any comments you would like to make?

PRIME and rural afterhours arrangements and funding continues to be one of the bigger challenges our rural health services have to cope with. If you have any comments or queries about this, please don’t hesitate to email me or give me a call.

Mobile: 021 547853