Funding boost to strengthen primary, community and rural care

Primary care providers will receive a $44 million funding boost to deliver high quality services  focussed on benefitting Māori and Pacific populations. The funding, which will roll out over two years, will directly impact those with the highest needs in New Zealand, Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall and Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare announced today.

Comprehensive care teams, including kaiāwhina, physiotherapists, pharmacists, care coordinators, and in some rural areas, paramedics, will be established in all early localities. Kaiāwhina roles will also be introduced across Counties Manukau, Northland, Auckland, Waitematā and Bay of Plenty regions as a first phase of this initiative.

“I’ve heard from primary care clinicians that they face increasing needs of patients. Funding for clinical roles such as physiotherapists and pharmacists will help them to meet these needs,” Ayesha Verrall said.

“To support the winter pressures and beyond, we’re funding up to 193 additional frontline clinical team members across the country to focus on early intervention, faster treatment and better support for whānau.” 

“Funding for these roles will be prioritised to providers serving Māori, Pacific, and rural populations with complex needs, including those with limited access to primary healthcare services. Better access to local care will go a long way improve early intervention rates and help patients avoid hospital care, improving the hauora of those who need it the most.”

In addition to comprehensive primary care teams, a further targeted investment of $37 million over the next two years will more equitably allocate primary care funding to general practices based on their enrolled high-needs populations. This is part of the Budget 22 initiative to address the shortfall in the current funding formula, which does not consider factors such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and age when distributing funds to primary healthcare providers. 

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare says this funding will help to build capacity in the workforce, and help to address the burden of under funding for Māori and Pacific providers.

“This is an important initiative that will make a difference for Māori and Pacific providers and the whānau they care for

“This also helps to address the findings of the WAI2575 claim that criticised the capitation funding system for not addressing factors such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and age when distributing funds to primary healthcare providers,” Peeni Henare said.

To support the new roles, immediate additional funding of $4.9 million will be allocated for the training and development of the kaiāwhina workforce

“The kaiāwhina roles are an opportunity to diversify the workforce, bringing those skills and cultural competencies that reflect the needs of their communities,” Ayesha Verrall said.

“Training and development of kaiāwhina will be a priority, so that we can help the workforce that supported the Covid-19 response transition to permanent roles in community and primary care.”