Rural primary health care

Funding for rural premiums to support the retention and recruitment of the rural primary health care workforce commenced in 2002.

Reasonable rosters funding is intended to improve rural on-call rosters, where for geographical reasons, doctors and nurses providing first level services are experiencing onerous on-call arrangements.

The workforce retention funding is a flexible resource to assist with retention and recruitment of all primary health professionals in rural communities. The funding may be applied to a range of strategies to create favourable working conditions.

The level of funding paid for workforce retention is based on the rural ranking scale.


Run under the auspices of the New Zealand Rural GP Network, NZLocums is the Government-funded rural general practitioner recruitment service in New Zealand. The contract with the Ministry of Health provides general practitioners with a rural ranking score of 35 or more eligibility to apply for a 2-week break once a year (conditions apply). Under this contract, NZLocums also recruits for permanent rural general practitioner vacancies and provides long-term work force assistance.

Service Level Alliances

In October 2013, the Government announced rural funding could, with local agreement, be allocated through Service Level Alliances (SLA). $2 million additional rural funding was announced at the same time. This new opportunity started on 1 July 2014.

To further support the new approach, the Ministry made all rural funding held by the Ministry available for Service Level Alliance Team (SLAT) discussions from 1 July 2014 and will initiate discussions and workshops with general practices, DHBs and PHOs to provide a forum for information sharing, advice and support through this change process.

Rural practices that do not meet the new rural criteria outlined in the PHO Services Agreement version 2 will be excluded from rural funding support unless a SLAT agrees to include them. For those practices excluded, there will be a 2-year transition period, and transitional funding paid by the Ministry.

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