Primary Care Partnerships lead community change and should not be cut
11 September 2019
The State-wide Chair of Victorian Primary Care Partnerships, Kevin Feeney, has called upon the Victorian health minister to categorically rule out defunding the State’s twenty-eight health care partnerships.
The call follows direct questioning of the Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos by her Opposition counterpart Georgie Crozier during parliamentary question time on Tuesday.
In response to direct questioning, Minister Mikakos did not rule out defunding the partnership platform.
‘Delivering a high quality, accessible and value-for-money health and social services is an ongoing challenge for the Victorian Government’, Kevin Feeney said.
‘We wholeheartedly recognise and support the need to properly resource patients, doctors and hospitals, but this is only part of a strong and effective health care system’, he said.
‘Most factors influencing health and wellbeing happen far away from doctors and hospitals in the places we live, work, learn and play.’
Victoria’s Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) are unique in the Australian health care landscape.
Established in 2000, PCPs connect more than 850 health, education, community service and local government organisations with local communities to share skills and harness resources to find solutions to local health and wellbeing challenges. They are key health infrastructure in rural communities, where the number of services has significantly declined.
PCPs support the delivery of over twenty state government strategies, actively embedding government policy and reform in local communities through more than 150 distinct initiatives.
‘Our focus is on activities that prevent people becoming unwell, in areas like mental health, gambling, family violence and climate adaptation.
‘These are high priority issues for government; our work saves the tax payer significant health care dollars as well as making communities healthier, happier and safer’, Mr. Feeney said.
On average, each PCP directs more than sixty per cent (60%) of its modest funding to prevention activities. This compares to just over 1% of total Australian health spending which places Australia well behind other developed nations such as Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands.1
‘Evidence shows that local public health initiatives common to PCPs deliver a high return on investment of up to four dollars for every dollar invested. These efforts deliver direct benefits to the Victorian community.’2
Recently the future of Victorian PCPs has become unclear due to uncertainty over funding.
‘The current threat to our funding is more direct than we have experienced in the past. We stand ready to deliver the governments objectives of the recently released Victorian Health and Wellbeing Plan and continue to deliver outcomes for Victorian communities.
‘We call on Minister Mikakos to commit to continuing Primary Care Partnerships’ modest funding for the benefit of all Victorians’, Mr Feeney concluded.
For more information please contact: Kevin Feeney, VIC Primary Care Partnerships Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 0418 202 501
Victorian Primary Care Partnerships key messages document.
- A recent international systematic review of public health interventions, including within Australia (2017) found that median return on investment (ROI) for local public health interventions was 4.1 to 1, and median cost benefit ratio (CBR) was 10.3. It concluded that local and national public health interventions are highly cost-saving. Cuts to public health budgets in high income countries therefore represent a false economy, and are likely to generate billions of dollars’ worth of additional costs to health services and the wider economy.
Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found (2014) that public health interventions of the kind offered by PCPs are cost effective and deliver ROI: [E]vidence … shows that interventions targeting the environmental and social determinants of health; those that build resilience, affecting factors such as mental health and violence; those that promote healthy behaviours; and those for screening and vaccination can be cost-effective and give returns on investment in the short and longer term. In particular, the researchers found a number of interventions with quick returns on investment within one or two years in a number of areas, including for mental health promotion, healthy employment, reducing road traffic injuries and promoting safe active transport.