Most primary health care services are provided by general practitioners (GPs) and nurses working within a general practice.
The Government places an emphasis on the broader multidisciplinary primary health care team – general practitioners (GPs), nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals (such as physiotherapists, dieticians, psychologists, counsellors and occupational therapists) working together to enable people to have direct access to a range of primary health care providers.
Visiting a general practice
The Government provides subsidies to lower the cost of general practice visits for people enrolled in a PHO, usually through a general practice. General practitioners operate private businesses and set their own fees for consultations and other services such as writing repeat prescriptions without a consultation. Fees charged for general practice services, according to local arrangements between DHBs and PHOs, are required to be published on DHB websites.
You can only be enrolled in 1 PHO at a time, and the practice in which you are enrolled will receive funding for you. If you need to make a casual visit to another practice (for example, if you are away from home and get sick), and you do not hold a Community Services Card or a High Use Health Card, you may be charged the full fee as a casual patient.
Primary health care nurses
In some cases it is more appropriate for health care to be delivered by a nurse rather than a GP. First Contact Funding to PHOs includes a Practice Nurse Subsidy.
The development of some services delivered through PHOs such as Care Plus, have enabled more effective use of nursing skills. The alliances established by every DHB with PHOs will allow for more flexible use of PHO funding and more effective use of the skills of nurses in general practices.
If you are a casual patient (not enrolled at the practice you are attending) and a nurse sees you, they can make a claim for the consultation from the Ministry of Health.