Primary Health Networks must align with 12 guiding principles, say general practice leaders

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18 May 2015

Australia’s general practice leaders have welcomed the Government’s April announcement of successful applicants from the Primary Health Network (PHN) tender process and are looking forward to working with PHNs from 1 July 2015.

Members of United General Practice Australia (UGPA) have set out 12 principles for Primary Health Networks (PHNs), to ensure they are effective organisations that improve front line delivery, engage general practitioners and integrate the primary, community, and secondary healthcare sectors for the benefit of patients.

UGPA members developed the principles to facilitate genuine general practitioner involvement in the governance of PHNs and genuine PHN engagement with general practice, to support quality patient care.

The principles are informed by the successes and failures of the PHN predecessors (Divisions of General Practice and Medicare Locals) and key strategies that support effective coordination of patient care in the health sector.

The principles are:

  1. Promote GP leadership of the primary healthcare team.
  2. Recognise the importance of coordinated primary healthcare, with the GP as coordinator.
  3. Actively seek GP participation at all PHN governance levels, including on the PHN board.
  4. Adopt strategies through commissioning of health services to productively support, engage and work with GPs and their teams through multiple avenues.
  5. Collaborate with GPs and other primary health providers to identify need and address local and regional service gaps.
  6. Improve the capacity for general practice to deliver quality primary care.
  7. Support GPs to deliver population health services.
  8. Facilitate health service and system integration to improve access and health outcomes.
  9. Minimise potential for conflicts of interest.
  10. Apply Key Service Deliverables and Key Performance Indicators to ensure PHNs address agreed performance and outcome objectives.
  11. Identify market failure according to reasonable and transparent criteria.
  12. Focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

UGPA members firmly believe that for PHNs to be effective organisations, they must support GP-led, coordinated primary healthcare.

Each PHN board and broader organisation must have a comprehensive understanding of community based general practice and its interaction with other parts of the health and social welfare systems and this comprehensive understanding can only be achieved with the direct involvement of GPs.

Members of UGPA look forward to constructive dialogue with the Government during the establishment of PHNs in Australia.

Further information

RACGP: Debbie Guest 0439 585 798

ACRRM: A/Prof Lucie Walters 0409 692 359

AMA: John Flannery 0419 494 761

RDAA: Prof Dennis Pashen 0418 771 441

GPRA: Dr Jomini Cheong 0406 214 076

GPSA: Dr Bruce Willett 0448 600 959

AGPN: Dr Nicholas Demediu 0418 550 827

AGPN: Dr Rod Pearce AM 0417 864 774