Improving health in WA

Primary Health Care Demonstration Sites

The Southern Inland Health Initiative is the largest investment into rural health care in Western Australia’s history. 

Over half a billion dollars will be invested through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program to transform the way communities in the southern inland are access and approach health care.

Innovative health solutions are required for managing and promoting health care in an area that rivals Egypt in size – over 1 million square kilometres, with approximately 136,000 people living in 100 separate towns.

Strengthening individuals – strengthening communities – strengthening organisations

Australia’s population is growing older and the incidence of chronic disease is rising. 

Primary care has been demonstrated as one of the most effective ways to deliver health services to tackle these growing health issues.

International research has shown that countries with strong primary health services are recording:

  • lower rates of hospitalisation
  • lower mortality
  • better health outcomes generally.

A comprehensive system of primary health care encompasses health promotion and illness prevention as well as treatment and rehabilitation. 

It embraces people across the health spectrum – from wellness to chronic disease management.

Primary health care helps communities and individuals take greater responsibility for their health outcomes.

What are Primary Health Care Demonstration Sites?

Communities in rural areas face challenges to maintain modern and appropriate health services. 

An ageing population, along with less people moving into communities can mean the health network no longer meets the needs of the local community.

The Southern Inland Health Initiative is making a significant investment into several Primary Health Care Demonstration Sites (PHCDSs) across the Wheatbelt.

These sites will be innovative, fit for purpose health care facilities that will enable communities to focus on the:

  • promotion of good health
  • prevention and early detection of illness
  • management of chronic disease on the one site.

The mix of health services available at each site will reflect the community’s:

  • population
  • location
  • health needs
  • current service position. 

Extensive planning with the community will allow the best mix of services to be delivered.

The sites may provide a mix of the following services:

  • general practitioners and other private primary health care providers
  • emergency care and stabilisation with on-call registered nurses, outside of business hours
  • outpatient services, which may include:
    • visiting allied health
    • visiting medical specialists
    • telehealth appointments
    • ambulatory
    • domiciliary care such as wound care and dressings
    • population health services including:
      • disease control
      • health promotion and child health
      • community mental health services
      • community aged care services
    • public dental services.

What will determine a Primary Health Care Demonstration Site?

Communities must opt in to host a PHCDS, which they do through an expression of interest. 

They will also have an opportunity to have input into the health services and the way those services are delivered.

The purpose of a PHCDS is to work with communities to utilise and modernise existing facilities. 

The PHCDSs will be most appropriate for communities:

  • that have hospitals with very low acute inpatient activity
  • where the distance between the existing hospital and its district hospital is not too great
  • which have the capacity to attract and retain GPs to work within the area into the future to develop and improve primary health care services.

The need to look at new and innovative ways to improve health care service and delivery is a priority for all communities. 

Improvements in primary health care are the key to creating a health system that keeps people well, at home and participating as fully as possible in life and work.

The initiative will also work alongside communities to find suitable models of aged care– with the understanding that home based aged care is more viable and suitable for many people who wish to stay at home.

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.

Around $40 million of capital funding is available to potentially develop a number of these purpose built facilities under the Southern Inland Health Initiative.

The facilities will bring government, non-government and not for profit services together to promote:

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

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
    Email: southerninland@health.wa.gov.au
Produced by

WA Country Health Service