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Health in the nation's capital

26 May 2016
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Since the Capital Health Network (ACTPHN) was established on 1 July 2015, a key project for the organisation has been producing its Baseline Needs Assessment (BNA) report, which is a crucial step in the commissioning process.

CEO of ACTPHN Gaylene Coulton said the first stage in the development of the comprehensive BNA report was to identify key health issues in the ACT through discussions with major stakeholders and communities.

“Phase one centred around consulting with government, peak bodies, and focussing on the major issue areas that were identified in the 2014 Comprehensive Needs Analysis by the former ACT Medicare Local,” she said.

“We also focussed on the six priority areas the Department of Health set Primary Health Networks (PHNs): mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, population health, health workforce, eHealth and aged care.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health was a particular focus. We found that the main issue for this group was the difficulty in accessing non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific primary care services. These access issues also mirror the experiences of a number of other vulnerable communities in the ACT, such as people who are homeless.”

Other key findings included:

  • A need for improved services for people with moderate to severe presentations of mental health issues;
  • A need for improved community based specialist alcohol and other drug treatment and support;
  • A need to improve hospital/community care integration for older people and to prevent avoidable ED attendances and hospitalisation for end of life care;
  • A need to increase health system capacity and capability to deliver cross sectoral coordinated care to patients with complex chronic conditions;
  • A need for better access to outpatient services, due to a lack of consistency in discharge planning processes and timely communication; and
  • A lack of knowledge and awareness of community based support services.

Phase two saw more in-depth consultation with NGOs, consumers, the community, health professionals and other stakeholders. The level of engagement increased through guidance from our Community Advisory Council, which provides advice on priority issues.

“We then looked at quantitative data from sources including the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHCRIS), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Report on Government Services, PHN website, Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online, Emergency Department Information System (EDIS), the ACT Chief Health Officer’s Report and the National Health Performance Authority Healthy Communities reports,” Gaylene said.

“We have now submitted the BNA to the Department of Health and we are fleshing out some of the issues for more feedback and consultation to finalise a comprehensive report for release in the next couple of months.

“At this time, we are particularly engaging with consumers and issue-based networks, such as the drug and alcohol and the mental health sectors, for their feedback.”

Gaylene said the overall vision for the ACTPHN is to have a better-integrated health system for the people of the ACT.

“We are working very closely with ACT Health so wherever possible we don’t end up with a Commonwealth funded health system, and a territory funded health system,” she said.

“We are continually looking at where we can co-commission, and where we can co-design and develop services with ACT consumers, carers and other stakeholders.

“I think ACTPHN is in a better position to respond to identified needs, with our flexible funding enabling us to prioritise key areas of concern and develop faster responses to them.”

This news item was featured in This Week in PHC Issue: 26 May 2016.

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