There is evidence that many groups within the community do not have adequate access to primary healthcare services. These include some geographical communities with low numbers of General Practitioners (GPs) as well as some population groups who find it hard to get the kind of care they need. COPHE also undertakes financial analyses of primary health services/GP practices to assist them to be sustainable and develop new models of multidisciplinary care.

COPHE assists organisations to improve access to these services for their client groups and/or communities through:

  • Understanding how primary healthcare services work and are funded
  • Understanding how they can develop such services or incorporate primary health care professionals into their teams, using Medicare funding
  • Undertaking a scoping or feasibility study for the  establishment of such services or introducing primary health care professionals including GPs into their existing services.

There are many ways in which such services have been established in Victoria and other states. However in the current context, we see opportunities in two main ways.

First an existing child and family (or aged care or disability) service in an area poorly-serviced by PHC practices/services might recruit some GPs and practice nurses to its team, financed through normal Medicare mechanisms. This could then provide a PHC service integrated with its core work, not separating people’ health needs from their social needs. This approach would potentially offer care more attuned to their clients or community members, using a social model of health.

Second an alliance of local organisations and community members might develop identify a gap in provision and work to establish such a service to provide primary health care to their geographical community. For example, there are longstanding examples of this in Melbourne and a new such service in Canberra.