What is a Primary Health Organisation (PHO)?

What is a Primary Health Organisation (PHO)?

Primary health organisations (PHOs) support the delivery and co-ordination of primary healthcare services by bringing together doctors, nurses and other health professionals to serve the needs of their communities. Health professionals can include, but are not limited to, Māori health workers, health promoters, dietitians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health workers and midwives.

PHOs are made up of a number of primary care practices working together. They are designed to ensure everyone can access primary healthcare through a GP practice. Patients register with a practice, and in doing so enrol with a PHO. PHOs were established to help the Government fund primary care. There are a number of PHOs throughout New Zealand, each holding relationships with one or more district health boards (DHBs).

PHOs receive a set amount of funding from the government to support the delivery of a range of health services, including visits to the doctor. Funding is based on the number of people enrolled with the PHO and aspects such as age, gender, and ethnicity. This funding also lets medical centres approach and offer services to those in the community who are missing out on health services or who have poor health.

The Pinnacle Midlands Health Network is made up of over 85 practices, spread across the Waikato, Lakes, Taranaki and Tairāwhiti DHB regions. Read more about our network.

What are the benefits of enrolling with a PHO?

Enrolling is free and voluntary. If you choose not to enrol you can still receive healthcare services from a chosen doctor or practice. Advantages of enrolling include cheaper visits to your practice and direct access to a range of health and community services linked to the PHO.

To enrol, you need to complete an enrolment form at the practice of your choice. You’ll also need evidence of your eligibility for publicly funded health and disability services, which can be your passport or birth certificate. Parents can enrol children under 16 years of age, but children 16 years of age and over need to sign their own form.

If you’re unsure if you’re eligible for publicly funded health and disability services, talk to the practice team, call 0800 855 151 or visit the Ministry of Health website and work through the guide to eligibility criteria.