Frequently asked questions on Primary Health Care Demonstration Sites

What is a Primary Health Care Demonstration Site?

Primary Health Care Demonstration Sites (PHCDSs) are dedicated one-stop-shop health care facilities providing communities with access to a range of health services and providers under the one roof.

These facilities bring together government, non-government and not-for-profit health services focused on the:

  • promotion of good health
  • prevention and early detection of illness
  • management of chronic disease within the community.

The mix of services offered at each site will vary based on the needs of the community and can also change along the way.

Where will the first primary health care demonstration sites be located?

The Shires of Pingelly and Cunderdin have nominated to be engaged in the development of a Primary Health Care Demonstration Site that will provide the community with access to a range of health services and providers under one roof.

Why is a PHCDS a better option for this community?

The current health system in many small country towns has been built around a local hospital and general practitioner (GP) providing most health services to the community.

Over time, this way of delivering health services to regional communities has changed, with more people experiencing chronic health conditions and greater difficulty attracting GPs to country towns.

The PHCDS model changes the way health services are delivered, by offering a greater range of primary health services to a greater number of people, encouraging people to lead healthier lifestyles and reducing hospitalisation.

The sites will offer fit-for-purpose accommodation for a range of health professionals, which will improve access to specialists and allied health personnel.

What will happen to the emergency services in the community?

The model of emergency care and coverage will depend on the needs of the local community. The PHCDSs will be able to access 24-hour emergency care.

The PHCDSs will be fitted with telehealth technology, and will be supported by the Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS).

The ETS is a new initiative which links specialist emergency physicians to regional health facilities via videoconferencing technology to guide on-site staff in the diagnosis and treatment of emergency patients.

The next step will involve facility planning and development, which may result in significant changes to existing facilities or the design and construction of a new facility.

Representatives from the health service and the community will also be involved in this process.

For a more detailed timeline regarding the phases around development and implementation please refer to the PHCDS timeframe sheet.

Who will deliver the PHCD site program?

A small project user group will be established at the site to liaise with representatives from the existing health staff, community members, shire, GPs and other local health care providers to develop and implement the PCHDS and services.

There will be a close working relationship with representatives from:

  • WA Country Health Service
  • local shire
  • SIHI project team
  • district health advisory committees/local health advisory councils.

How will the development of a PHCDS affect current staffing – both clinical and non-clinical?

The services available at the PHCDSs will be determined through extensive stakeholder consultation.

All existing staff will have an opportunity to have input into this process.

The new mix of services and their delivery will influence the staffing model for the new site, which may mean some roles are reviewed as the sites are established.

If this occurs, staff will be consulted and advised throughout the project. All permanent employees will continue to have employment.

The project team will work closely with any affected staff under the guidelines of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 (external site).

This may involve identifying new employment opportunities or offering further training to fulfil other roles in the new facility or in the community.

Ongoing staff communication will be a critical part of the implementation of the PHCDSs, and there will be an extensive staff change management process in place to support staff moving to the new PHCDS model.

How will the new development affect aged care services?

Aged care is an important component of the Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI), which will be looking at how to deliver aged care services to suit the needs of the elderly in the local community.

The Wheatbelt Development Commission (external site) and SIHI are investigating and developing alternative aged care services in the local communities. This work will be undertaken at the same time as the PHCDS program.

For further information on the SIHI, please subscribe to the newsletter (external site).

For information during the implementation of the program, please do not hesitate to contact our SIHI project team or regional representatives of WACHS.

What will happen now that my community has been selected for a PHCDS?

The health services available at the PHCDSs will reflect the needs of the local community.

Existing staff, health care providers and the wider community will be consulted in the planning and implementation of services.

The first step in this process will be to determine the health care needs of the community and how best these services can be delivered.

This will involve working closely with stakeholders to collect information about how the current services can be improved.

What are the key benefits of this model?

The PHCDS program will allow local health services to be provided that meet the health needs of the surrounding community.

This means more residents can access the health services they need, in a prompt manner and without needing to travel to other locations.

PHCDS will promote a wellness model which will provide services that encourage and support people to live healthy lifestyles, which in the long term reduces the need for them to access acute, high-care medical services.

The program offers a multi-disciplinary approach which offers greater collegiate support, training opportunities and can improve staff satisfaction, attraction and retention.

The process will also give the community an opportunity to be involved in developing health services.

Do general practitioners support the PHCDS model?

The project team has provided an initial briefing to GPs in both Pingelly and Cunderdin about the PHCDS program.

Their responses were positive, with feedback about how the model would help them to attract additional trainees and GPs to these locations.

They also commented in the benefits of working in a multidisciplinary approach that would offer peer support, education, shared on-call and better help GPs to attain the work-life balance they desire.

The GPs will be a critical component of a successful PHCDS and they will be very involved in discussions about the program and in the clinical service redesign process.

What will happen with people with common emergencies, such as bad cuts, falls, concussions and young children with respiratory issues?

Emergency services will still be available in both Cunderdin and Pingelly as part of the PHCDS model.

The clinical services redesign process will look closely at how these situations are currently managed in the hospital and how to provide a more suitable response under the PCHDS model.

This may include discussions about:

  • the new 7 days a week Emergency Telehealth Service (high quality videoconference linking to an emergency specialist)
  • on-call staffing models
  • community education about the appropriate use of 000 and HealthDirect
  • how to ensure people without phones and private transport still have access to emergency services.

Will a new facility be built? Will we have a say in the look and feel of a new facility?

An important element of the PHCDS program is to identify the right services for the Pingelly and Cunderdin communities.

An equally important element is to provide the right infrastructure to support these services, and these discussions will happen alongside the discussions about services and staffing.

As part of the infrastructure process, the project team will need to look at whether the current available infrastructure is suitable as is, whether:

  • it may be suitable after a refurbishment
  • a completely new build is the most cost-effective option.

If a new building is constructed or the existing hospital is refurbished, key stakeholders will be engaged to discuss the look and feel of any new facility.

What facilities will be included if a new building is constructed?

The facilities of either a new building or a refurbishment of the existing hospital will depend very much on which health services are the most critical to the community.

This will be determined through engaging the community and health service staff and through the clinical services redesign process.

It is likely the facility will have:

  • an emergency department
  • shared ambulatory care rooms
  • group rooms
  • consulting rooms for allied health services
  • GP rooms
  • telehealth suites.

Where else is this model being used?

The model of bringing together primary health services to focus on building a healthy community is done successfully in many places around the world.

Some good Australian examples include the:

  • Central Highlands Community Health Centre in Ouse, Tasmania – which is a predominantly farming area with an ageing population
  • Ochre Health Centre in Kununurra, Western Australia – which is a remote location with a high Aboriginal population

What will happen to the existing aged-care residents in the hospital or at facilities attached to the hospital?

The Wheatbelt Development Commission (external site) is currently leading an aged care planning initiative – the Wheatbelt Integrated Aged Support and Care Solution – to identify a range of infrastructure and service solutions for the Wheatbelt.

To avoid duplicating this work, the PHCDS project will feed into this process.

This process will enable many of the Wheatbelt’s local government authorities to have confidence in an integration solution for the delivery of aged care services.

In turn this will enable residents to age well in the communities they’ve live all their lives.

How will you measure whether or not this is successful?

A benefits realisation framework is being developed for SIHI project, to provide feedback on the big picture and individual benefits of the SIHI investment.

The PHCDS program will be formally measured under this framework.

Key measures are likely to include:

  • improvements in the self-sufficiency of the health centre, for example reducing patient’s need to travel to access services
  • reductions in the number of older people requiring highcare residential care
  • reduction in the prevalence of chronic disease and a reduction in the impact of chronic disease on local patients
  • improved access to services, for example reduced waiting times
  • increased use of telehealth services – outpatient and emergency care.

More information

  • Southern Inland Health Initiative

    Level 7, 2 Mill Street
    Perth WA 6000
    PO Box 6680
    East Perth Business Centre WA 6892

    Telephone: (08) 6383 1868
Produced by

WA Country Health Service