Keeping people well and providing care in communities

Primary and community healthcare is a critical part of pae ora, as it plays a key role in preventing illness, treating disease early, and reducing the impact of long-term conditions. These services are critical to ensuring people stay well in our communities, reducing pressure on hospitals and other health services.

Over the next 18 months, as an important next step in the health reforms, Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health, with Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora, will be leading a primary and community healthcare policy work programme.

Next steps

Over the course of the next year, we will be seeking people’s views on the changes needed for primary and community healthcare. We will be building on what we’ve heard through previous reports and engagement with the primary and community healthcare sector and the public.

Vision for primary and community healthcare

All New Zealanders will receive high-quality primary and community healthcare in their local communities. Whānau will be able to access affordable care of their choice – and continuity of care by a team they trust – that protects and promotes health and wellbeing, and prevents illness, injury and harm throughout their lives.

Future design features

In July 2023, Cabinet agreed in-principle to the following features for the future of primary and community healthcare:

  • Comprehensive and accessible – people must be able to access a diverse range of high-quality health services that are delivered close to home where possible. This includes increasing the use of data and digital technologies to deliver care. Health services will respond to physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Continuous — people should be able to have an ongoing relationship with a primary and community healthcare team that provides seamless care, effectively manages long-term conditions and focus on preventing ill health and improving wellbeing.
  • Coordinated – people will experience smooth referral pathways and transitions between services as their needs change.
  • Individual and whānau centred – individuals and whānau will be enabled to make decisions concerning their health and wellbeing and partner in delivery of their care. Services will be based on what matters to individuals and whānau and reflect the community they serve.
  • Fit for purpose and continually improving – the primary and community healthcare system is sustainable, learns from whānau and community voices, research, evaluation and innovation, and adapts and improves over time, including through using digital advancements.

Policy work programme

In 2024 we will be seeking input from Māori partners, the healthcare sector and users on the following areas:    

  • Investment, financing and funding of primary and community healthcare, including how to ensure that funding arrangements are designed to drive the outcomes we are seeking. This will include work on the balance between investments in prevention and treatment, cost-sharing, and the settings for funding models.
  • Workforce settings for primary and community healthcare including skills, capabilities and diversity, and ensuring the workforce has the right tools and resources to deliver improved outcomes.
  • What is needed to strengthen the focus on prevention, including how to better manage long-term conditions, ensure that health services are responsive to wider determinants of whānau wellbeing, and how digital and data can be used to improve outcomes.
  • The structure and function of the primary and community healthcare sector, including how organisation of the sector promotes integration and coordination of care and how planners and providers can innovate and tailor approaches to best meet the needs of the communities.
  • How the system can better support Māori to design and deliver whānau-centred primary and community healthcare, including enabling Māori leadership in the health system, supporting whānau to direct their own health and wellbeing, supporting the growth and sustainability of Māori providers, and ensuring that all services are culturally safe.
Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

Find out more

Further information including an engagement plan and contact details can be found on the Manatū Hauora webpage: