Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) is a primary health organisation, tasked with the responsibility of coordinating primary health care services for the Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait regions.
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about NQPHN.
Who is Northern Queensland PHN (NQPHN)?
PHNs are independent not for profit organisations, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
In the 2014 Budget, the Federal Government announced that PHNs would replace Medicare Locals from 1 July 2015.
NQPHN will coordinate primary and preventive healthcare – that is, the healthcare that takes place outside of a hospital, such as GPs, allied health, chronic disease management, aged care, mental health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Primary health care is recognised as the most effective way to keep communities and individuals healthy and well.
The PHN will identify where there are areas of need, such as lack of health care services, difficulty in accessing these services, or regions with particularly high health needs, and work closely with GPs, allied health care providers, hospitals and the broader community to ensure that patients can receive the right care in the right place at the right time.
NQPHN starts at Dysart, Middlemount, St. Lawrence and Clermont in the south and stretches north to Saibai Island in the outer islands of the Torres Strait, and west beyond Richmond, encompassing Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait regions.
Find a map of the region here.
What will Northern Queensland PHN do?
NQPHN will make health better for North Queenslanders.
- Making patient journeys smoother and improving coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.
- Directly supporting and collaborating with General Practices, Pharmacists, Dentists and Allied Health professionals to support sustainable practice, deliver education and training, and use Quality Improvement along with data to improve health outcomes for patients.
- Improving health outcomes for people across the whole of North Queensland by using existing resources better and addressing service gaps, working with communities or populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Working together with health agencies and communities to keep people well, and reduce unnecessary visits and admissions to hospitals.
- Leading health improvement for all primary health practitioners working in our North Queensland region to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of health services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes.
- We listen to the communities in our region to make sure that we are providing services that truly meet the community’s needs.
- We work in partnership with our community through Community Advisory Groups and Clinical Councils to identify and address local health priorities. Community Advisory Committees are a group of your local representatives including councils and consumers that inform our approach to health in your community. Clinical Councils are GP-led, and include other health professionals such as nurses, allied health, community health workers and Indigenous health workers, as well as hospitals.
- Our strategic direction is led by our local, skills-based board of directors, including General Practitioners.
- Our staff are embedded in regional locations across North Queensland, including in Cairns, Townsville, and Mackay.
What has happened to Medicare Locals?
Medicare Locals across Australia ceased operation on 30 June 2015. The Medicare Local regions of Far North Queensland and Townsville-Mackay were replaced by Northern Queensland PHN.
How will health services in my region be affected?
Our focus, particularly over the first 12 months, is to ensure that health services continue uninterrupted. An in-depth analysis of community needs will assist in ongoing planning for the needs of the region.
What are the priority areas for PHNs?
While Northern Queensland PHN will focus on the health needs specific to the Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait regions, the Federal Government has set six key priority areas that will underpin all our planning and activities:
- mental health
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
- population health
- health workforce
- aged care
Why are we adding more admin staff instead of health providers?
The Federal Government has specifically recommended that PHNs not do any “service delivery”.
Our role is as a hub – we bring together the right services to address local health needs. We make sure the funding is being delivered to the places that need it most. We help health services provide the greatest value for taxpayer dollars in the programs they are delivering.
Many of the clinicians who previously delivered health care services as employees of Medicare Locals continue to deliver those same services under programs funded by Northern Queensland PHN.
How much is it going to cost?
Northern Queensland PHN is committed to managing the transition at the lowest possible cost. Where possible we will maintain existing IT equipment, premises, fitout, and furniture.
Our role is to do the planning and service mapping behind the scenes, and commissioning and supporting the highest quality, most cost-effective local health professionals to do what they do best – delivering services. The health professionals in the region are the experts at delivering quality health services, and we are the experts in supporting them to do that in an effective way.