In a bold move to shift people’s focus away from acute care, and towards primary health and preventive care, the Lower Gulf Strategy was formed last year.
North West Hospital and Health Service Chair Paul Woodhouse said it was a critical collaboration between state and commonwealth.
Chief Executives and Chairs of the Western Queensland Primary Health Network, the NWHHS and Gidgee Healing, travelled to Doomadgee, Mornington Island and Normanton last week, to see how this community-controlled model of care is working.
With WQPHN as the commonwealth-funded commissioner of health services, the NWHHS focused on acute care at the three hospitals.
Gidgee Healing the provider of primary health care said they were heartened at the progress made, particularly the level of community involvement.
“With the health statistics of the North West some of the worst in the State, it’s important that we look at new ways of doing things which require the involvement of the community as never before,” Mr Woodhouse said.
“It is very important we involve the communities, and that the design and provision of health care is community-led, and what the people want.”
The group met with staff from Gidgee Healing, the three hospitals, Shire Councils and community-run health councils.
“It’s clear that more people are accessing primary health care, through Gidgee Healing, and this is very encouraging as Gidgee Healing are the obvious health providers for primary health care in our predominantly Indigenous communities,” Mr Woodhouse said.
“The main health service providers and the WQPHN have worked together so well across government lines and funding models to offer a way forward that is not only creative when compared to historical practice, but will, we are confident provide both improved health outcomes, and a better return on public investment in health across North West Queensland, in the short, medium, and long term.
“The Lower Gulf Strategy is a substantial and innovative departure from conventional and siloed health delivery.”
The Chief Executive of the NWHHS, Lisa Davies Jones said she was encouraged by the way they and Gidgee Healing were working together in all three communities.
“We have clear challenges to do with infrastructure and staffing and these challenges are very real in our remote communities,” Ms Davies Jones said.
“Establishing secure internet services and even landlines, have proven problematic in our remote communities, but we are hearing that in all three communities the people understand what we’re doing and why we’re working together, and that is really encouraging.
“I am so pleased that the staff on the ground understand the vision – that it’s about coordinating primary health care services for better outcomes for our patients,” she said.