Terry Findlay writes:
The Annual Forum of the UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity – to be held in Sydney this Friday – could not have come at a more opportune time.
It follows the recent release of a discussion paper by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group: Better Outcomes for people with chronic and complex conditions through Primary Health Care.
The key themes and challenges identified in this report – such as information sharing, adherence to clinical guidelines, funding models, continuity of care and consumer engagement – parallel the research focus of the Centre and its key partners.
Supporting primary and community health care is a part of Centre’s mission to create ‘better, fairer health in the community’. We are a research centre of the University of NSW that has been studying and supporting primary health care development since 1996, focusing on:
- Primary health care system development
- Prevention and management of chronic disease
- Research capacity building
Reflecting its focus on applied research, the Centre has an extensive track record of successful projects and established partnerships, including three jointly funded research and development hubs in Local Health Districts in Sydney.
The Centre looks forward to contributing to the current discussion, bringing expertise and research insight to the issues identified by the Advisory Group. These will include our work on clinical guidelines, integrations of services, models to improve access for disadvantaged groups and ehealth initiatives in primary health care.
Significantly, the Centre will be advocating for equity considerations to be at the heart of the debate. It is essential that the specific needs and circumstances of vulnerable groups in our community are addressed to ensure that any proposed reforms reduce and not widen the he gap in health status and access to services. Again, this is a timely focus, given the enormous challenges facing some under-served communities as identified in the recent Dropping off the Edge 2015 report.
This year’s Annual forum will contribute to this discussion and will focus on consumer engagement and health literacy – key areas of collaborative research at the centre.
The keynote speech will be given by Ms Leanne Wells, CEO of the Consumer Health Forum. The importance of consumer engagement in service/policy development generally and particularly in the research activity that underpins reform will be a feature of the presentation.
Health Literacy is recognised as a vital element of a comprehensive strategy to meet the needs of people with chronic illnesses, whether it be in primary or secondary prevention or self -management of existing conditions.
The Centre will showcase three case studies of recent work in this area;
- Can Get Health in Canterbury which is a joint project between Sydney Local Health District, Central and Eastern Sydney and CPHCE to improve primary health care and reduce health inequities in Canterbury local government area in Sydney.
- The Gudaga partnership which is a long term partnership between CHETRE, SW Sydney Local Health District and Tharawal Aboriginal Health Service focused on Aboriginal child health in SW Sydney.
- Overview of health literacy initiatives in CPHCE being conducted in partnership with Sydney and SW Sydney LHDs and Central and Eastern and South West Sydney Primary Health Networks.
This will be followed by a plenary discussion and panel involving representatives of the Consumers Health, Health Consumers NSW and the Agency for Clinical Innovation.
In keeping with tradition, awards will be made at the Forum to people and organisations that have played a significant role as partners with the Centre. They represent a diverse range of stakeholders and recognise the importance of partnerships as the key way of ensuring the relevance and impact of research.
The Centre celebrates the last year’s efforts, but also looks forward to a playing a significant role in the development of primary health care over the next few years.
The Centre is the academic partner in the independent evaluation of Primary Health Networks that has been commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health and continues an ambitious program of work in the priority areas with local partners.
• Terry Findlay is director of the UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity