Nurses and Their Work in Primary Health Care

Published online: 
02 July 2006


One hundred and sixty seven nurses associated with medical practitioners in general practices and A&M clinics completed questionnaires on the different activities they undertook, and the degree of independence they had to do so. Patient log and visit data was also collected by 28 nurses in community governed practices. Data was collected for 1,815 patient visits and 410 detailed consultations.

The mean age of nurses in the survey was 46 years. All worked part time. Only 10% had an undergraduate degree, and postgraduate qualifications held were all professional practice development certificates.

The majority of patients that see practice nurses do so by appointment. On average, there are five such appointments in a day. A&M clinics charge for nurse appointments as do 76.4% in community practices.

The GP-based practice nurses provide a variety of clinics, primarily related to disease management (diabetes, asthma and hypertension). Immunisations, advice on child care, dietary and lifestyle advice, together with wound care and arranging repeat prescriptions account for the majority of patient contact activities. There are minor variations between rural and non-rural nurses, with the latter reporting a wider variety of services.

Nurses working in HCA clinics work primarily with the most deprived patients in high-decile population areas and with Māori or Pacific patients. Their activities focus predominantly on symptom control and disease management.


The views expressed in this occasional paper are the personal views of the authors and should not be taken to represent the views or policy of the Ministry of Health or the Government. Although all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility is accepted for the reliance by any person on any information contained in this occasional paper, nor for any error in or omission from the occasional paper.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    02 July 2006
  • ISBN:
    0-478-29633-9 (print), 0-478-29634-7 (online)
  • HP number:
  • Citation:
    Kent B, Horsburgh M, Lay-Yee R, Davis P, Pearson J. 2005. Nurses and their Work in Primary Health Care: The National Primary Medical Care Survey (NatMedCa): 2001/02 Report 9. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
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