Governance and Primary Health Care

Gwyn Jolley, Fran Baum, Angela Lawless, Catherine Hurley

The project ‘Governance change and PHC in metropolitan Adelaide’, funded by Flinders University University/Industry Collaborative Research Grant scheme and industry partners (SA Health, SAHS, CNAHS, CYWHS) commenced in 2006 and is nearing completion. This project aims to provide an assessment of the impact on primary health care (PHC) that has been brought about by the implementation of regional governance as part of the health reform agenda.

The aim of the study is to begin an assessment of the impact of the new regional health structure in two health regions on commitment to, and implementation of, primary health care, including allocation of resources. The study addressed the questions: What is the most effective way to organise health service governance in order to promote and strengthen primary health care as a key focus of the health system? How does a change in health service governance affect the position of primary health care in relation to acute care health services?

Methods involved collection of base-line data, face-to-face interviews with key informants and document analysis. These data will be analysed to assess the impact of reform on PHC and to further develop the PHC Evaluation Framework which was developed in an earlier study conducted in the southern region of Adelaide.

Unfortunately, our application to the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects for a grant to continue this research was unsuccessful. This means that the planned evaluation of the reform agenda in South Australia from a primary health care perspective is unlikely to happen.