Worst time ever for primary care health funding vacuum

Health and Wellbeing Pillar

G21 - Geelong Region Alliance is calling on the state government to end speculation that Primary Care Partnership funding for health and wellbeing coordination services to 28 areas across Victoria will cease at the end of June 2020.

G21 CEO Elaine Carbines said that if funding were to be scrapped ground-breaking health projects and coordination of resources across the G21 region would end.

“Right now the need for well-targeted and coordinated delivery of health and wellbeing services and increased awareness of health needs within our region has never been greater,” Ms Carbines said.

“It would be a travesty for such innovative work to be trashed for the sake of a relatively small saving in the context of the state’s health budget.”

G21 has held the service agreement with Department of Health and Human Services to Primary Care Partnership (PCP) coordination in the G21 region for over a decade.

“For years G21 has brought together the region’s five local councils, more than 15 health providers and service agencies and the community to coordinate and deliver evidence-based, preventative health programs for the region,” Ms Carbines said.

“The G21 region PCP has impressive runs on the board. It has produced some of the most significant and innovative health outcomes for the G21 Region, many of which are leading the state.”

G21 region PCP projects have included:

• The GROW (G21 Region Opportunities for Work) initiative to address entrenched disadvantage in our region.
• The State’s first regional Health and Wellbeing Plan focusing on Healthy Eating and Active Living.
• The G21 Region Strategic Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children.
• The G21 Addressing Disadvantage through Affordable Social Housing.
• Growing Up in the G21 region report.
• Service Coordination and Chronic Disease Management.
• Disability Inclusion Partnership formation.
• Young Men and Problem Gambling resources.
• G21 Region Volunteering Strategy development.

The G21 PCP has also worked with the Wadawurrung people to develop the “Spreading the Message” project to engage young members of our Aboriginal community at risk of losing their connection to their culture.

The G21 PCP has worked with the region’s refugee community to lessen their social isolation.

The G21 PCP supports several working groups including:

• G21 Regional Justice Reference Group.
• Refugee & Asylum Seeker Advocacy Working Group.
• G21 Active Travel Working Group.
• Collective Impact Backbone Support Group.

G21 PCP members include: Barwon Health; Barwon Child, Youth and Family; Barwon Water; Bellarine Community Health; Borough of Queenscliffe Council; Colac Area Health; City of Greater Geelong Council; Great Ocean Road health; Colac Otway Shire Council; Golden Plains Shire Council; Hesse Rural Health; Leisure Networks; Surf Coast Shire Council; Women's Health & Wellbeing Barwon South West; Department of Health & Human Services; and the G21 Health & Wellbeing Pillar.

“The strength of the partnership that addresses health inequity in our region cannot be overestimated, in areas of influence and, most importantly, in using scarce resources to achieve maximum impact,” Ms Carbines said.

“To scrap the funding would be a clear case of false savings.  The ongoing financial and health benefits coming from the G21 region PCP’s coordination work far outweighs the government investment.”

G21’s Health and Wellbeing staff (2.2 full-time equivalent) are employed using PCP funding from the Department of approximately $416,000 annually (which covers staffing, administrative and implementation costs).

The state’s 28 PCPs, including the G21 PCP, were advised late last year that the Department service agreement would be extended until 30 June 2020, and that during that time a review of the PCP program would take place.

KPMG were appointed by the Department to undertake the review of the PCP program across the state.

“KPMG selected G21 to be interviewed during the process as an example of a contemporary, good-practice model of primary care integration and to identify key features and drivers of success,” Ms Carbines said.

“G21 understands that the KPMG report has now been delivered to the Department.

“In the meantime, the G21 Health and Wellbeing Pillar’s executive has undertaken a piece of collaborative work to explore a new model to deliver preventative health programs in the G21 region.

“The aim is to deliver a more comprehensive, place-based preventative health program in our region which could serve as a model to be replicated across the state.

“However, as we are now in March and moving closer to the 30 June funding cut-off G21 is increasingly concerned about the future of the G21 Primary Care Partnership, its programs and staff employed.

“We implore the state government to provide urgent advice regarding the funding of the service agreement that G21 and other agencies across the state hold with the Department.”

For more details on the achievements of the G21 PCP click here.