If you have any additional questions relating to PNIP and your role as a nurse working in General Practice, or the nursing services in your practice, please email

Detailed information on the PNIP is available from the Medicare website.

What is the purpose of the PNIP payments? Do they fully cover nurses’ salaries?

The PNIP provides funding to accredited practices/services that employ either Registered or Enrolled nurses or Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) or a combination of these. 

Though it is true that revenue from the PNIP can only be used toward covering the cost of employing or contracting a nurse or AHW, it is very rare that a practice will rely only on the PNIP to fully fund nursing positions, rather they will utilise the funding to help offset the costs of employment.  

The PNIP is a simplification of a previous incentive scheme, which provided payments for certain activities. The PNIP program provides more freedom in the range of activities that can be undertaken and provides the opportunity for nurses working in General Practice to work to their full or expanded scope of practice, releasing them from the particular clinical practice and tasks purely associated with item numbers. Nurses can undertake a more varied role, and thus be engaged differently in meeting the clinical and financial demands on the practice.

Is the practice nurse incentive payment calculated per nurse?

The PNIP payment is calculated according to the practice's SWPE (standardised whole patient equivalent) and the total number of hours per week for which the practice employs eligible staff. The PNIP Guidelines contain a guide to the minimum number of nurse hours per 1000 SWPE that are required to receive the maximum incentive payment.

Table 1

SWPE Minimum number of nurse hours per week required for full incentive payment Incentive amount for a Registered Nurse (or allied health professional, where applicable) Incentive amount for an Enrolled Nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker
1,000 12 hours 40 minutes $25,000 $12,500
2,000 25 hours 20 minutes $50,000 $25,000
3,000 38 hours $75,000 $37,500
4,000 50 hours 40 minutes $100,000 $50,000
5,000 63 hours 20 minutes $125,000 $62,500


For example, a practice with a SWPE of 1000 might employ one registered nurse for 14 hours per week, or alternatively may employ one registered nurse for 8 hours per week and another registered nurse for 6 hours per week. For the purposes of calculating this practice's PNIP incentive, the total number of registered nurse hours per week will be 14 hours in either case

Registered Nurse = $ 25,000 p.a. Enrolled Nurse, AHW, AHP = $ 12,500 p.a.

Location Loadings apply: 
Urban = N/A.; Inner regional = 20%; Outer Regional = 30%; Remote = 40%; Very Remote = 50%
More details can be found in the resource PNIP Guidelines Australian Government Department of Health.

What is a Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE)?

To estimate the size of a general practice, the Department of Health uses a measure called the Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE) value. The SWPE value is calculated using MBS claims by patients attending the practice during an historical 12 month period, known as the reference period. The reference period is a rolling 12 month period that commences 16 months prior to the payment quarter. For example, payments received in the August quarter are calculated using practice size data for the 12 month period ending 31 March of that year.

As a guide, the average full-time general practitioner (GP) has a value of around 1,000 SWPE each year. MBS services provided by both GPs and nurse practitioners are included in the SWPE value of a practice. Whilst the SWPE calculator, previously provided by the Department of Health, is no longer available, information on how the SWPE value of a practice can be calculated is found below.

Practices regularly receive reports giving them information their Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE) value.

How can the Cervical Screening Service Incentive Payment (SIP) be triggered by a nurse has performing a pap smear?

With the removal of the previous Practice Nurse Cervical Screening Service Incentive Payment (SIP) items10995 and 1099, practice nurses can no longer trigger a cervical screening SIP themselves. 

However, nurses in General Practice may assisting a medical practitioner in providing a Pap smear service under MBS items 2497-2509 and 2598-2616, which still trigger a Cervical Screening SIP for under screened women.

For advice on the Cervical Screening SIP please contact the Medicare PNIP hotline on 1800 222 032 or email



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