To ascertain how new funding arrangements, introduced in New Zealand's 2001 Primary Health Care (PHC) Strategy, have impacted on the expansion of nurses’ role in general practice.
Nurses are central to the new policy that was designed to improve the health status of New Zealanders and reduce inequalities in health. Nurses were to be a crucial part of the PHC team, expanding their current roles to provide increased access to appropriate services. This paper investigates how the new funding arrangements, introduced as part of the policy, have impacted on the expansion of nurses’ roles and consequently the realisation of the policy goals.
Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 128 key stakeholders five years after the introduction of the PHC Strategy, and surveys were completed by practice nurses, general practitioners and practice managers in purposively selected practices within the 20 participating Primary Health Organisations.
There has been substantial growth in the development of nursing roles for some nurses in general practice; however, this expansion has not been universal and one of the main reasons for this is the way funding devolves at the practice level. One of the consequences of the policymakers not taking into account the business model of the majority of general practices, is the resulting overarching goal of the strategy not being realised, and inequalities in health status remaining.