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No extra money for PHO nursing services 'disappointing'.

THE MINISTRY of Health has made it clear there will be no extra funding for nursing services within primary health organisations (PHO), according to College of Practice Nurses NZNO chair Rosemary Minto (formerly Jamieson).

While disappointed, she remains optimistic there are enough "passionate practice nurses" who will seize the opportunities provided by PHOs to develop nursing services. "But there will be no national consistency, just piecemeal nursing services and it will take a great deal of work to get such services working as well as they could," she said. The only way nurses could access funds was through services to improve access funding or health promotion funding, which was very limited.

Minto said the lack of any extra funding for nursing services was particularly disappointing when so many policy papers, including the Government's primary health care strategy promoted the role and value of nursing in health services "but there's no extra money". The situation did nothing to alter any power imbalances in the GP/practice nurse relationship. "Some practice nurses are still dealing with some GPs' outdated attitudes to their role and to how capitation funding should be used."

But there were PHO leaders who saw the opportunities and "obvious advantages" of having integrated nursing services in PHOs and there were nurses everywhere who were making a difference in their PHOs. "We need to keep that going and we need support from NZNO to keep the impetus for change going, but it's going to be a slow process."

A research report on the first year of PHOs, conducted by the Health Services Research Centre at Victoria University and released late last year, showed there was strong support for the primary health care strategy and a willingness to make it work to achieve health gains for all. But the report said tying PHO funding to enrolment based on GP registers was seen as a disadvantage, because it appeared to undermine the potential for a multi-disciplinary/holistic approach as envisioned by the strategy.

Other research findings included poor public awareness of PHOs; inconsistency and variation in the contracting process; limited overall funding; and cumbersome payment processes.

* The Ministry of Health has launched a freephone number to give the public easy access to information on PHOs. The number is 0800 252 464.

According to the ministry, there are now 59 PHOs, covering 2.5 million people.
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Title Annotation:news and events
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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