Joint release | Te Whatu Ora, Te Aka Whai Ora

Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora are partnering to improve equity in access to primary care with a $21.25M funding boost for the expansion of primary options for acute and planned care (POAC). This programme is aimed at improving equitable access for people in the community requiring care and easing system pressures within our hospitals and communities.

POAC funding enables primary care providers to provide health care for people who may have otherwise attended hospital and specialist services or required additional primary care for conditions that can be proactively managed.

The first phase has seen $5.32M allocated to the immediate expansion of current packages of POAC. This was aimed at preparing for winter and reducing system pressures and has been focussed on the eight priority hospitals and their surrounding regions of Whangarei, Middlemore, Auckland, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Invercargill.  From October, a further $15.9M will expand these funded packages of care across the rest of the country, continuing our focus on equity and improving national consistency.

Te Whatu Ora National Director Commissioning, Abbe Anderson says that this is Te Pae Tata (the Interim New Zealand Health Plan) in action, shifting acute and planned care so that it can be safely provided in the community, away from its current provision in the hospital setting. It will enable providers to be more proactive, react to acute illnesses and minimise unnecessary demand on hospitals by providing more planned care in the community. 

“The immediate injection of funding is so the primary and community care sector can do more of what they’re doing well, with additional flexibility,” says Abbe Anderson.

“The further investment to develop across the country after winter is a long-term, strategic investment to create more capacity in general practice, so that we support more patients and whānau in the community.”

The extension of POAC will focus on improving outcomes for Māori, Pacific, and community service card holders through expanding proactive care for people and whānau that are at the highest risk, and who would otherwise present at hospitals. Examples of services that could be increased within the community include more tests being available at primary care providers, intravenous treatments, support for abnormal uterine bleeding and interventions for a patient with exacerbation of a chronic illness.   

Jade Sewell, Maiaka Tau Piringa, Deputy Chief Executive – Service Development for Te Aka Whai Ora says this is an important step towards achieving health equity in Aotearoa and reducing variations across the country.

“We need to ensure that all New Zealanders have access to high-quality healthcare, regardless of their location or background and by standardising the POAC mechanisms across the country, we can enable increased access and consistency for our priority populations,” says Jade.

“It will make a significant difference in reducing the burden of disease and reducing the demand for more costly and intensive specialist care.”

Implementation of phase one has commenced with regional partners and current POAC providers.