Primary health care

Primary health care relates to the professional health care provided in the community, usually from a general practitioner (GP), practice nurse, pharmacist or other health professional working within a general practice.

Primary health care covers a broad range of health services, including diagnosis and treatment, health education, counselling, disease prevention and screening.

A strong primary health care system is central to improving the health of all New Zealanders and reducing health inequalities between different groups. The launch of the Primary Health Care Strategy in 2001, followed by the establishment of primary health organisations (PHOs), set the direction and vision for primary health care services in New Zealand.

In 2009 the Government released its Better Sooner More Convenient approach to integrated health care across primary and secondary health providers with the patient rather than the institution as the centre of service delivery. District health boards (DHBs), PHOs and general practices now work together in alliances to meet the health needs of people within their district. The aim is to promote a more seamless patient journey across community, primary, and hospital sectors, greater use of primary and community care, and care being provided closer to the patient’s home.

The Care Closer to Home booklet looks at how health professionals in our communities are working with one another and with hospital-based clinicians, to provide more services in community settings which, for most New Zealanders, translates to ‘care closer to home’.

Clinical guidelines

Clinical guidelines provide information and guidelines to all clinicians. Many of the guidelines relate to primary health care. Find our guidelines in the Publications section.

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