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What is Commissioning?

Since the formation of PHNs in July 2015, we have gradually been making changes to the way we manage the provision of some health services. 

One area of change in particular that warrants greater awareness within the community is the use of a 'commissioning' approach in how we may deliver healthcare services to meet local health needs.

Commissioning is a structured and planned process to support the development and delivery of healthcare services. Ultimately, it aims to ensure health gaps are filled in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

It involves identifying and prioritising health needs, planning and developing workable solutions, implementing or purchasing the required services from others, and evaluating the outcomes to ensure objectives are met or opportunities for ongoing improvement are identified. The Department of Health require PHNs to fund other organisations to provide any patient or clinical services rather than provide them directly ourselves – unless of course there is no other alternative.

An example is the current project to identify a new organisation to manage the Nepean After Hours GP Clinic. As part of the changes made by the Department of Health to the way it funds healthcare services, a GP after hours clinic is no longer a service the PHN is able to deliver directly, however we are committed to funding another organisation to continue to provide this important service.

Given this, we have put out to tender to find a suitable organisation that can take over the running of this invaluable service. This also provides an opportunity for us to consider how we can provide an even better service – one that is easy to access and meets the needs of the community. So as part of this change we are seeking feedback from the community on what is important to them in a GP after hours service.

You may hear the word commissioning used increasingly in the media in conjunction with the Australian healthcare system. You may also hear about other healthcare services our PHN introduces to the region using this model. This approach is an important one in helping us to maximise healthcare funding in order to be able to benefit as many people as possible in our local community.

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Lizz Reay's avatar
Lizz Reay is the CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network. Previously Deputy CEO of Nepean Blue Mountains Medicare Local & Nepean Division of General Practice, she has an extensive background in public health.
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