This work is part of the ‘Rural unplanned care’ workstream of our Primary Care Development Programme.

Go to Primary Care Development Programme page

Established over 20 years ago, the PRIME (Primary Response in Medical Emergencies) model comprises doctors, nurse practitioners and registered nurses to provide a level of care in rural and remote areas to support Emergency Ambulance Service.

Technology changes, workforce shortages, medicine improvements, inequitable health access and outcomes have contributed to a redesign of rural urgent and unplanned care, with PRIME at the core.


The PRIME (Primary Response in Medical Emergencies) service is jointly funded by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora and ACC. The service is administered by Hato Hone St John ambulance service.

The PRIME model provides a coordinated response to, and management of, emergencies in rural locations.

The ambulance service is supported by rural GPs and/or nurses if response times could be significant or when higher level medical skills are needed.

How we’ll do this

We’re partnering with ACC and Hato Hone St John to ensure our work builds on the existing PRIME work programmes and networks to ensure an effective, constructive, collaborative, and open design process.

The Rural Unplanned and Urgent Care (RUUC) Advisory Group has representation from across the health sector to ensure an inclusive, collaborative, and transparent approach is taken to informing proposed future models.

We're connecting with a broad range of stakeholders, including primary health care and ambulance providers.

Who we’re working with

Local voices and ideas are critical to informing this work.

We’re committed to understanding the needs, learnings, experiences, and perspectives of stakeholders, iwi, rural communities and whānau. 

Keeping you updated

We’ll keep stakeholders, partners, and the community updated with what’s happening, as this work progresses.


 From May 2024 we expect to:

  • better understand how rural unplanned urgent care is currently operating across the country
  • identify service viability challenges for PRIME providers

From October 2024 we expect to:

  • identify proposed models and assess our future options to improve rural unplanned urgent care
  • finalise discussion document for consultation.

By February 2025 we expect to:

  • have a final decision document on the future rural unplanned urgent care model.

Contact us

If you’d like to ask a question, subscribe to our communications, or get in touch, please email: