19 July 2022

Consumers and healthcare providers have come together to develop a ‘roadmap for reform’ of primary healthcare, the bedrock of better health outcomes and lower health costs.

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia and the Primary Health Network Cooperative of 31 PHNs, including SWSPHN, have produced Strengthening Medicare and investing in Primary Health Care: A Roadmap for Reform.

The report says major primary healthcare reforms are required over the next 10 years.

“The forum’s latest health consumer sentiment survey of over 5,000 people found that while the quality of healthcare services in Australia remains generally high, there are growing gaps in affordability and accessibility particularly among disadvantaged cohorts and people with chronic conditions,” the report said.

“Australians commonly experience a healthcare system that is fragmented, with inconsistent levels of access especially in the regions, and a lack of continuity in patient care.

“Year on year reductions in the number of doctors choosing general practice has led to drastic workforce shortages, coupled with existing access issues in fast growing outer urban areas,” the report said.

While the new Federal Government’s commitment to invest $250 million of additional funding per year over the next four years will go some way to addressing challenges in the system, the report said “looking beyond this critical down payment to strengthen and improve Medicare, there are a range of additional and essential measures required to sustain and strengthen general practice and primary care”.

The Roadmap for Reform aims to ensure Australians from all backgrounds and walks of life have the opportunity to access better primary healthcare, when and where they need it.

The reforms fall under six broad action areas:

  • One system
  • Equitable patient experience and outcomes
  • Continuous quality improvement, safety and future focus
  • Bolstering rural health
  • Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • Supporting our health workforce

Download the Roadmap for Reform

29 June 2022

SWSPHN’s Practice Support team provides support for general practices undertaking accreditation for the first time or for those undergoing re-accreditation. This support includes:

  • Providing contact information for accrediting bodies
  • Enabling practices to plan and implement policies and procedures
  • Providing feedback regarding practice readiness for accreditation
  • Providing templates and resources
  • Demonstrating available resources – AGPAL Hub and QPA Connect Plus websites

What are the benefits of being an accredited practice?

  • Improve patient safety and overall health outcomes
  • Reduce risk in practice
  • Improve practice efficiency
  • Build a culture of quality in the practice environment 
  • Develop staff skills and engaging the practice team in continuous quality improvement
  • Access to financial incentives for general practice – Practice Incentives Program (PIP), Service Incentive Payments (SIP) and Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) 

Please contact your Practice Support Officer (PSO) if you have any questions regarding accreditation or need support. Our Practice Support team can offer practice visits, remote support and phone/email support.

29 March 2022

If you have patients from culturally and linguistically diverse communities who need assistance with alcohol and other drug use, the Drug and Alcohol Multicultural Education Centre (DAMEC) is available to provide advice and support.

DAMEC is a non-government organisation specifically working to reduce harm associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) within culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.


What service/s does DAMEC provide?

Programs include drug, alcohol and psychological assessments, counselling, home visits and referrals to other services – all delivered by qualified counsellors and psychologists. Although DAMEC has access to translator and interpreter services, information is presented in the relevant community language whenever possible.

DAMEC also conducts research to understand the prevalence and impact of AOD on CALD communities, for instance through service and program evaluations. DAMEC’s health promotion and education projects help build capacity in CALD communities dealing with AOD related issues.

DAMEC acts as a consultancy service, providing advice on the development of culturally appropriate interventions, helping assess staff cultural competency, and facilitating programs, for general practices, government and other community organisations.


Where are DAMEC services available?

DAMEC is a NSW service provider, with offices in Blacktown and Liverpool. Clients can have their session with clinicians face-to-face or virtually via telehealth.


Who is eligible to access the service?

All communities across Sydney can access DAMEC services. Clients must be over the age of 18 and have an alcohol and drug issue, or have a family member/friend with an alcohol and drug issue, and want further support/education.


How do GPs refer to the service?

GPs can complete a form face-to-face, over the phone or can email the form to [email protected]. Referrers can also access the referral form online on DAMEC’S website: DAMEC Counselling Service Referral Form

DAMEC can also contact clients to complete the intake process if the client has provided consent to be contacted directly.


Who can GPs contact for more information about the service?

GPs can call 02 8706 0150, email [email protected] or drop into one of DAMEC’S clinics to make any enquiries.

DAMEC Liverpool is at Suite 15, Level 4, 13-15 Moore Street, Liverpool.

DAMEC Blacktown is at Suite 102, Level 1, 114-116 Main Street, Blacktown.      

15 February 2022

As you may know, SWSPHN is funding an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Best You by Benestar, to support the mental health and wellbeing of all general practice staff and their families.

Dr Kenneth McCroary, Chair of Sydney South West GP Link, spoke to SWSPHN’s Director of Planning and Performance Amy Prince about the EAP for general practice staff for the latest in his GP Link Lunch series.

Amy said:

“Primary care aside, we know that 50 per cent of the population will experience mental ill-health at some point in their lifetime and we know that GPs aren’t immune to that

“The program we have funded … will provide individual coaching with qualified clinicians like psychologists, dieticians, social workers and others, depending on your specific needs for your physical and mental health. They can help with a wide range of issues, covering the workplace, family and relationship, grief, improving exercise and nutrition and lots of other things in between.”

Read the full interview and learn more about Best You by Benestar

Download Benestar’s self-care checklist

Download MyCoach for Individuals

Keep an eye on the post for an envelope from SWSPHN with more information about how to access this great service.

11 August 2021

Enhance general practice operations through Practice Transformation initiative 

South Western Sydney PHN (SWSPHN) has introduced Practice Transformation to guide our region’s general practices in implementing new processes and participating in programs which will contribute to their becoming high performing practices.

Practice Transformation is the term used to describe the process for achieving the Quadruple Aim of:

  • Improving the health of our community
  • Enhancing patient experiences
  • Reducing healthcare costs
  • Better supporting health professionals

All practices across South Western Sydney are invited to participate.

SWSPHN’s team of Practice Support Officers (PSOs) facilitate improvements in one or more aspects of your general practice.

They do this by:

  • Assisting in the introductions of weekly huddles and/or staff meetings at the practice to improve communication between all practice staff
  • Supporting unaccredited general practices through the accreditation process
  • Connecting practices with the SWSPHN Digital Health team to register for telehealth options

Features of high performing practices include:

Team-based care: While GPs have the ultimate responsibility for their patients’ care, the general practice team plays a vital role in supporting the delivery of care. Co-locating clinicians and non-clinical staff, with agreed ground rules, a respectful culture and daily huddles, allows for effective shared care.

Engaged leadership: Leaders at all levels of the organisation are fully engaged in the process of change, identifying priorities and setting measurable goals and objectives.

Patient-centred care: Empower patients to be involved in decisions regarding their health. Clinicians consider a patient’s culture, background, circumstances and personal goals to foster an ongoing relationship between patient and GP.

Co-ordinated comprehensive care: Effective communication supports a smooth patient journey through the various levels of the healthcare system. Patients have access to a multidisciplinary team of care-providers who are wholly accountable for the primary healthcare needs of the patient.

Continuity: Patients are more likely to receive appropriate, patient-centred care and reduced hospitalisation, with a regular GP coordinating the management of their healthcare needs.

Accessibility:  Accessible care encompasses three key elements:

  • Cultural appropriateness, providing a culturally safe and sensitive environment for patients
  • Physical access, offering alternative types of clinical encounters. For example, phone, video consultations and home visits
  • Cost of services

Data-driven improvement: Using computer-based technology to monitor a practice’s progress towards clinical and operational objectives.

If your practice would like to be involved in Practice Transformation, please contact your Practice Support Officer.

04 February 2020

SWSPHN has a team of passionate registered nurses who support general practice in a wealth of ways. Do you know how we can help improve patient care at your practice? Find out more in this special feature which celebrates International Year of the Nurse and of the Midwife.

Primary care nurses do so much more than meets the eye.

They care for, support and advocate on behalf of their patients. They assist patients to understand their current health conditions and how to manage them, and educate patients about disease prevention and health promotion. They are problem solvers. They connect patients with clinicians and services. Most importantly, they are there to listen.

These highly-skilled healthcare professionals enhance the multidisciplinary team care approach and allow GPs to spend more time caring for their patients. Practice nurses help improve outcomes in chronic disease, increase the range of services available at the practice, reduce waiting times, and improve public access and integration with the acute sector.

The World Health Assembly has designated 2020 International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to recognise and celebrate the vital role of nurses worldwide.

Our dedicated team of registered nurses have first-hand experience in general practice and are passionate about supporting the 360 practice nurses employed in 190 general practices across our region.

Our Practice Nursing Program aims to strengthen our general practice workforce to improve access to services and provide quality, evidence-based primary care to patients.

We do this through promotion of continuing professional development (CPD) events, mentoring, telephone support, and face-to-face education and training in areas including orientation, preventive health screening, clinical activities, MBS billing, clinical software training, chronic disease management, care planning, health assessments, immunisation and infection control/sterilisation.

In 2020, we are also offering the New to General Practice Nursing Program, one of only two programs of its kind in Australia.

The 12-month program aims to upskill new graduates, returning and transitioning nurses to ensure our practice nurse workforce is well prepared for the challenging and diverse role. It provides self-directed online access to education resources and in-house support and mentoring by our dedicated team.

There will be two intakes, the first this month (February) and the next in June. To find out more, read this factsheet or email [email protected].

To find out more about our Practice Nursing Program or for additional resources.


New practice nurses invited to register for support and education program

Are you a newly registered nurse or are you moving into general practice from other healthcare sectors?

SWSPHN may be able to provide you with structured support and education within the clinical setting which will help you transition into your new role.

We are offering the New to General Practice Nursing Program in 2020. We’ll be having two intakes this year – the first THIS MONTH, FEBRUARY and the next in June.

The free, 12-month program provides self-directed online access to education resources and in-house support and mentoring by our dedicated Clinical Support team.

To find out more, read this factsheet or email [email protected].

10 January 2020

A new national website has been launched offering a central coordination point to link doctors and medical students to a range of supports for their own health and wellbeing. 

The www.drs4drs.com.au website is supported by a network of doctors’ health advisory and referral services operating across Australia, each offering independent, safe, supportive and confidential programs.

The creation of DR4DRS has been led by the Doctors’ Health Services Board (DrHS), incorporating input from all State and Territory doctors’ health services. 

AMA President and DrHS Board member, Dr Tony Bartone, described the site as an important and practical step in ensuring the medical profession can easily find help for their own health when needed. 

“The health of our colleagues and future doctors has been a significant focus for the profession in the last few years. Creating a platform so all doctors and medical students can easily access help is vital,” Dr Bartone said.

DRS4DRS has a large menu of wellbeing strategies and where to find health care support, including links to each doctors’ health service, allowing doctors and medical students to find a GP, join a local support network, seek urgent advice, or participate in key events.

Doctors experience a range of barriers when seeking help for their physical health and mental health. The implementation of a national website that brings together a range of information, acting as a ‘one stop shop’ for doctors’ health and wellbeing, aims to break down some of those barriers. 

“The ability to access health care out of hours and to find confidential help are two significant barriers,” DrHS Chair, Mr David Brennan, said. 

“The DRS4DRS website details supports that can be accessed 24/7, how to connect with a confidential service for doctors only, as well strategies to assist with the many aspects of managing a busy professional life.” 

The DRS4DRS site provides guidance for doctors on supporting a medical colleague. Doctors who see doctors as patients can find helpful information about managing the doctor-patient consult and access online learning modules about caring for colleagues.

“Doctors have long called for improved national coordination of information for where and how doctors and medical students can seek support for their health and wellbeing. This website responds to that call, and can also increase awareness for our profession of how to take care of themselves, Dr Bartone said.

If this article raises any concerns for you, please contact your local doctors’ health service or LifeLine on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.

To access the website.

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