What is primary healthcare?

Primary healthcare refers to the medical care given by doctors, nurses and other health professionals (such as plunket nurses, pharmacists, district nurses, physiotherapists) in your community.  It is most commonly associated with medical centres, where you enrol and make appointments to see a doctor/nurse team who will treat you if you are ill and support you to stay healthy and well, and can help you receive other health services, like specialist appointments. Coming to the same medical centre means the doctor, nurses and practice staff can get to know you and your family and plan care to your health needs.

What does enrolment and funding mean?

The government funds (gives money) primary healthcare through District Health Boards (DHBs), who then fund Public Health Organisations (PHOs), who then fund medical centres to provide care in the community.  The amount of money a medical centre gets depends on the age, gender, ethnicity, and address of the people using their services.  To get this information, medical centres ask patients to complete enrolment forms. This is why a medical centre will ask if you are enrolled, or want to enrol when you visit. Registering helps the centre to apply for funding so their patients receive from cheaper visits and prescription charges.

Enrolment is easy, is free and benefits you, your family as well as your community. You can read more about enrolment under the Enrol Now tab on the home page

What is an Accident & Medical centre?

Accident & Medical centres are medical centres approved by ACC to offer urgent (immediate) medical treatment.   They are sometimes also called urgent care clinics.  You do not need an appointment to be seen at A&M similar to a hospital accident and emergency. 

Accident & Medical centres can still enrol patients as their main GP care provider, just the same as other medical centres. Across our group the following medical centres offer urgent care:

  • The Doctors Onehunga, Auckland
  • The Doctors Ti Rakau, Auckland
  • The Doctors Hastings
  • The Palms, Palmerston North
  • Team Medical, Kapiti

What training is there for doctors who work in medical centres?

Vocational registration is a form of specialist registration which allows GPs to work independently in New Zealand. A doctor can specialise as a GP, the same a doctor can specialist in another area of medicine. The Medical Council of New Zealand appoints a GP as vocationally registered. Vocational training in general practice is undertaken through the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP). Once their training is completed, the doctor is awarded the Fellowship of the RNZCGP (FRNZCGP).

A GP that holds a vocational registration means they are: 

  • recognised by Council as a GP specialist; 
  • can work independently in New Zealand; 
  • may prescribe specialist medications; 
  • are able to supervise other doctors.

What is Cornerstone?

Cornerstone is an accreditation programme specifically designed by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. Accreditation means that the medical centre has to meet strict national standards set by Royal New Zealand College of GP’s so that you can be sure your medical centre will provide you and your family with the best of care.  The College has developed a standard for care, Aiming For Excellence, that focuses on patients, professionals, practice. A medical centre is assessed against the standards and if approved enters into a regular cycle of assessment to ensure the standards are maintained.  The medical centre is assessed once a year and by someone from outside the centre every four years to make sure the high standard is kept.

What are DHBs and PHOs?

District health boards (DHBs) are responsible for providing or funding health services in their district.  They allocate funding to Primary health organisations (PHOs) to do this. The objectives of DHBs tend to be broad, focusing on improving, promoting and protecting the health of people and communities and reducing differences in health outcomes across different groups of people.

Primary health organisations (PHOs) are responsible for providing primary health care services in the community, as instructed by the DHBs. One of the ways they do this is funding and supporting medical centres to provide care for when you are sick and also to keep you well.  When you enrol with your local medical centre, you are also enrolling with your local PHO. The PHO then funds that medical centre based on the characteristics of its enrolled patients, such as age, sex, ethnicity, residence. Areas where people have more health needs receive more funding than others, which allows medical centres in those area to offer cheaper doctor visits and prescriptions and offer other services.

How does The Doctors fit into primary healthcare?

The first The Doctors was set up in Hawke’s Bay in 1989. It was among the first medical centres in New Zealand to provide 7-day a week, extended hours care to patients.  Twenty five years later, there are now more than 40 medical centres in the group the length and breadth of New Zealand. This makes us the largest single group of medical centres looking after people in the community. We continue to provide flexible, cost-effective and quality care you and your family can rely on, in convenient, comfortable health care facilities.