Primary Health Reform – Response to the Recommendations by The George Institute

The George Institute for Global Health responded to the draft recommendations from the Primary Health Reform Steering Group on the Australian Government’s Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

We believe primary health care should be at the heart of the Australian health system. It needs to be of high value, integrated, equitable and patient-centred. It should be readily available and accessible for people across their life course, responding to acute needs at critical life stages and proactive in the intervening periods to promote health and well-being.

As the report acknowledges, in Australia there is a growing burden on individuals in the health system with chronic conditions, with many conditions largely preventable. The current system is not “fit for purpose” and a business-as-usual approach to primary health care is not an option.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of primary health care, and its need to be innovative, agile and better prepared to ensure safe and secure connectivity between individuals, their families and the primary health care workforce. Although the pandemic has exposed many of our health system weaknesses, it has also highlighted extraordinary potential to rapidly address those weaknesses. What previously was thought to be a decades long process has been achieved in months. The momentum gained from such agility must not be lost and we strongly believe this mindset needs to be at the core of the proposed primary health care reforms.

In responding to the recommendations by the Primary Health Reform Steering Group, The George Institute believes there is an opportunity to establish an Australian Primary Health Care Innovation and Translation Institute. This would be similar to the United States Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which is a government-led innovation initiative that is continuously developing and testing new service delivery models and has a mandate to scale and spread the most promising innovations nationally.

We look forward to the final report to the Minister for Health, Hon Greg Hunt MP, followed by action by the Federal Government