Reviewing funding of the rural PRIME emergency service – delivered by GPs, NPs and RNs – is to be part of a “new era” for the service says the Rural General Practice Network.

Network chief executive Dalton Kelly said all things hoped for from a wide-ranging review of the Primary Response in Medical Emergency (PRIME) service had been accepted by funders ACC and the Ministry of Health – including a review of current funding arrangements after the sector raised concerns that the service was currently not financially sustainable.

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.

The funders’ governance group acknowledged that there had been “significant discussion about PRIME service funding being financially unsustainable” and called for proposal on how the review would be undertaken as there was a risk that (if the unsustainability) proved to be true than a prolonged review of funding may “worsen financial strain on PRIME providers”.

Kelly said all the things hoped for from the review had been approved including administration structures, clinical governance and roles, training and appropriate medicines and equipment.

As a result expressions of interested would be sought shortly from appropriately skilled PRIME GPs and nurses to be chair of the new National PRIME committee. The new committee is also to consider whether standards for PRIME training should be developed and who those standards would be approved, assessed and maintained.


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