Implementing the findings of the year-long review of hard-pushed rural PRIME emergency services is underway including the inaugural meeting of the new National PRIME committee.

The committee, chaired by Wellsford GP Dr Tim Malloy, was established in late 2017 following a comprehensive review of the Primary Response in Medical Emergency (PRIME) service in 2016.

The PRIME service uses the skills of specially trained rural GPs, nurse practitioners and registered nurses who are rostered to support ambulance service in rural areas where response times may be longer than usual or paramedics are not available.

Held on January 19, the inaugural national committee meeting was attended by representatives from New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, St John (PRIME administrator), ACC, Ministry of Health (NASO), PRIME providers and practitioners (medical and nursing), regional PRIME committee chairs, Emergency Care Co-ordination Teams, Rural Service Level Alliance Teams, RNZCGP and NZCPHCN.

Dr Malloy says a work plan has been developed to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the review. NASO, St John (as the PRIME administrator) and the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network are currently working with the wider National PRIME Committee to achieve this.

As well as establishing the national committee, other initiatives from the review already implemented include employing additional St John support to focus on the PRIME programme, introducing a bi-monthly newsletter with useful tactical updates and considerations for PRIME practitioners and the release of a new ‘smart device’ application to aide PRIME clinical decision making.

Other initiatives being implemented by July 2018 include a comprehensive plan to ensure all recommendations within the Review are met, new health and safety bundles for PRIME sites (helmets, gloves, reflective gear etc), purchase of AEDs for PRIME providers (where the practice does not have access to an AED currently), PRIME education material updated and the implementation of a new funding model.

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