While most people will receive primary health care through their GP, primary health care providers also include nurses (including general practice nurses, community nurses and nurse practitioners), allied health professionals, midwives, pharmacists, dentists, and Aboriginal health workers.
Primary health care is the entry level to the health system and, as such, is usually a person’s first experience for receiving health care.
The types of services delivered under primary health care are broad ranging and include: health promotion, prevention and screening, early intervention, treatment and management.
Services may be targeted to specific population groups such as: older persons, maternity and child health, youth health, people living in rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, refugees, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse or low socio-economic backgrounds.Ref. 1
A strong, accessible primary health care system keeps the community well and out of hospital by supporting people to manage their health issues in the community and at home.
The provision of health care closest to the home is known to be most effective. With the increase in chronic conditions, such as mental illness, diabetes, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as an ageing population, the role of primary health care is more important than ever.
Primary health care can improve people’s health and happiness by preventing and managing these complex and chronic conditions, thus reducing the need to call on specialists and emergency departments.
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are independent, not-for-profit organisations primarily funded by the Australian Government that work collaboratively with local hospital networks.
Each PHN is overseen by a board which is advised by a GP-led clinical council and a community advisory committee.
As the Primary Health Network for the NSW North Coast, we work alongside our local communities, primary health care professionals, hospitals, social services, as well as health experts beyond our region.
North Coast Primary Health Network:
- Identifies health needs in our region
- Sources and funds local services to address health care gaps; known as commissioning
- Develops and delivers innovative local health care programs
- Builds primary health care workforce skills and capability
- Improves the integration of primary health care services with specialist and hospital care
- Informs communities about health care resources and education around self-care
We do this by:
- Listening to and working with our communities, individuals, health professionals and community service providers
- Using trusted health data and local information to prioritise and direct efforts and resources to those most at risk of poor health
- Working with service providers to deliver effective and transparent commissioning processes that are addressing identified priority needs
- Maintaining strong partnerships across primary health care, the hospital system and social services so that patients have a better experience of care and enjoy improved health and wellbeing
- Supporting health professionals to provide the highest quality of patient care
- Providing learning and development opportunities for health professionals
- Identifying and adopting innovative approaches to health care relevant to local needs
- Placing patient experience and wellbeing at the centre of everything we do – click here to find out more about person-centred health care