More funding and better equipment for the Primary Response in Medical Emergencies (PRIME) service, is what Registered Nurse Rob Atkinson, of Otago Peninsula, would like to see in the Government’s budget this year.

He had just completed eight days on night shift at the Maniototo Hospital when CO News called.

He and other Prime nurses and doctors provide weekend and night cover for emergency call-outs for trauma and life-threatening situations, along with St John ambulance crews.

Prime staff give rural GPs the ability to have time off to prevent “burnout”.

Ranfurly has four Prime RN nurses plus a GP, all of whom provide out of hours cover, especially during weekends.

“We are usually on call from about 4pm Friday afternoon and often don’t finish until 8am Monday,” Mr Atkinson said.

He would like to see a more appropriate wage, a uniform to be supplied, upgraded equipment and even a 4WD vehicle supplied in areas like Maniototo.

Prime nurses have to use their own cars to get to emergencies and did not have a uniform, apart from the high-viz tabard the ambulance crews provided.

“We receive $17 an hour for being on call.”

In the past five years there had been an increase in demand for Prime services particularly in isolated rural areas.

“The Prime service is unique to New Zealand and many people do not know it exists and it plays such a vital role,” he said.

“We cannot afford to lose it.

“It needs to have a massive injection of funds across the board.

“The job is stressful, but because we are ethical and moral people, we choose to do it to support the community.”

About 60% of Prime staff were nurses and 40% were doctors and most were in rural practices.

He wanted Prime to be recognised as its own specialty within the nursing profession.

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