Focus on integrated care
WITH an aim to improve delivery of a healthcare system that keeps people well, not just one that looks after them when they are sick, the Federal Government is continuing to commit to building a stronger primary healthcare system. The key objectives are greater efficiencies, lower rates of avoidable hospital admissions, reduced health inequalities and improvements in health outcomes through the implementation of ‘GP Super Clinics’ in regions across the country.
Here in Shepparton, the Commonwealth has confirmed its commitment from their Primary Care Infrastructure GP Super Clinic funding round, investing $500,000 for building and infrastructure development of a GP Super Clinic to further support the existing services at Primary Care Connect (PCC).
PCC Chief Executive Officer, Jill Hutchison said, “We believe that bringing more Commonwealth dollars into the region is fantastic for our community.”
The development of the GP Super Clinic will mean an increased capacity of PCC, extending the facility by over ten individual spaces, with additional treatment areas for a physiotherapy gym, group rooms to accommodate clinical placement of students and space to facilitate video conferencing so patients can access specialist care from capital cities around Australia, from right here in Shepparton.
Works on the development are expected to commence in October with completion of the building phase anticipated by late February.
Ms Hutchison said, “Care of complex health problems, health promotion and illness prevention is a very important part of what we do at PCC.”
PCC Director Service Development, Hamish Fletcher said, “The integrated philosophy of the GP Super Clinic program is a great fit with the way we work with clients and patients. Using the whole team of health professionals including GPs allows for a comprehensive approach to care especially for chronic conditions.”
“Shepparton has, within its demographic make-up, a complex mix of people and needs. The key thrust of the Commonwealth Health Reforms is integrated care and the statistics show that there is a need to increase this style of working in the wider Shepparton area. The needs of the community are diverse and range across the spectrum of programs traditionally offered by services like Primary Care Connect. It is very important to understand that the Super Clinic program is designed to offer access to a range of services, and to ensure that systems are in place that allows easy access for GP’s within the clinic itself and GP’s in the community at large, to these services and most importantly the benefits they offer their clients.”
The application for a GP Super Clinic funding is open to all agencies and practices providing medical care in the Goulburn Valley Region. PCC is only one of a number of GP clinics and integrated health services that have had successful submissions. Multi-million dollar clinics are being established in Wodonga and Wallan and minor funding has been made available to other GP clinics locally.
Ms Hutchison said, “It is right to say that the Super Clinic Program is essentially an infrastructure program. However, the development of the infrastructure comes with some very clearly defined strings attached. PCC has entered into an agreement that will see the development of a service that has as its sole focus, the integration and clearly defined co-ordination, of all programs, to achieve the best possible, long-term health outcome for clients across the Goulburn Valley.”
“What this means for PCC, is the chance to bring together over 20 different community based programs and combine them with GP care, to ensure that community members get what they want, when they want it. This has two main advantages:
“Firstly, GP’s are able to work within a team based environment that allows supported access to teams of professional care within the centre. In practical terms a GP can refer to programs like Financial Counselling or Drug and Alcohol Counselling and work closely with these programs and the client to ensure that the goals agreed to on the case plan are achieved.”
“Secondly the client is able to access multiple services under the one roof, and be supported to do so. This helps community members navigate the health sector and achieve the outcomes that they require. Without the need to travel between different locations and navigate the requirements of different organisations.”
Mr Fletcher said, “The GP Super Clinic is for everyone, it is for the whole community.”
“Community health has traditionally provided care to the most marginalised and at risk members of the community. This commitment remains, but it is also coupled with a commitment to addressing the health issues of our day across the community as a whole.”
“Our intention first and foremost, is to provide greater levels of healthcare to the community that we serve.”