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Primary health care nursing report

King releases primary health care nursing report on International Nurses’ Day

Health Minister Annette King has today marked International Nurses' Day by releasing the Government's plan for improving opportunities for registered nurses who work outside hospitals in New Zealand.

The report Investing in Health: A framework for activating primary healthcare nursing in New Zealand was prepared by the Expert Advisory Group on Primary Health Care Nursing. It also contains the findings of the Ministry of Health's Primary Health Care and Community Nursing Workforce Survey 2001.

"This Government is committed to supporting nurses. This report and the survey reinforce our decision last year to put $8.1 million into postgraduate nursing studies and innovative primary health care nursing concepts,” said Ms King.

"These registered nurses, who work in a variety of community settings, make an extensive and significant contribution to health care. The survey makes it clear that changes are needed to develop the primary health care nurse workforce in line with the recommendations in the Primary Health Care Strategy."

More than 3700 registered nurses responded to the survey. “They identified a number of barriers, including accessing ongoing education, fragmented nursing roles, few younger recruits, and low numbers of Maori and Pacific nurses.”

The report makes recommendations to District Health Boards, the Ministry and Primary Health Organisations to help implement the framework, such as monitoring DHB implementation of nursing career pathways, developing retention and recruitment strategies, and supporting nursing leadership development.

The Ministry also identified the need for more supportive structures, such as clinical career pathways, to help existing nurses and to provide a structure for new graduate nurses to come into primary health care.

But Ms King says there is still more work to do. "A stable and supported workforce is essential, but educational barriers, financial and time constraints, and a lack of relief staff can limit opportunities for nurses.”

Copies of Primary Health Care and Community Nursing Workforce Survey 2001 and Investing in Health, Primary Health Care Nursing Framework are available from the Ministry of Health website http://www.moh.govt.nz

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