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Stocktake Highlights Scale Of New Zealand Primary Care

The scale and complexity of the work being undertaken by Aotearoa’s primary care teams has been highlighted by a stocktake undertaken by General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ) in the first quarter of 2021.

Ahead of major reforms that are expected to shift the focus of the health system increasingly towards primary care, the stocktake reveals the depth and diversity of services being provided to meet the needs of local communities, from healthy eating and exercise programmes to co-ordination of COVID-19 testing.

GPNZ Chair and Karori GP, Dr Jeff Lowe said: ‘This snapshot of the work our member PHOs are involved in is astonishing. We know that primary care is where most people access the health support they need, but our stocktake highlights not just how much goes on in primary care every day, but how much of it is unrecognised.

‘Whether it’s developing a new care pathway to speed up access to treatment, or providing a mobile clinical team to bring care to hard to reach whānau, the common factor is how services are designed and developed with a deep understanding of people’s needs and strong partnership with local communities’.

New Zealand’s PHOs are responsible for, and funded to provide, core primary care services to their enrolled populations, mainly through general practices. This GPNZ report provides insight into the range of supplementary services that have been developed to speed up access to care, avoid the need for hospital intervention, and promote the wellbeing of local populations.

Dr Lowe said: ‘Many of the really successful primary care initiatives of recent years have come about thanks to the innovation and courage of our front line teams, who have pioneered services and developed ideas, often without funding.

‘Large scale transformation of how people access services, such as the Health Care Home model of care, new integrated primary mental health services and Whakarongorau Aotearoa (formerly Homecare Medical), which provides our national telehealth services, have been initiated and driven by our PHOs and practices.

‘But there are numerous initiatives across the country that are improving access, quality of care and outcomes for people, particularly in our Māori and Pacific communities, and for people living with complex and long term conditions’.

GPNZ will continue to collate information about services provided by its members, and support sharing of good practice as the health reforms progress. This stocktake report has been shared with the Ministerial advisory group overseeing the reforms.

‘Our stocktake confirms the innovation and expertise and insight that already exist in primary care. We know that our primary care teams have the desire and the potential to do even

more if they have the resources and the support to do so, and we’re looking forward to the details in the coming weeks of how that will happen,’ Dr Lowe added.

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