“The implementation of primary health care (PHC) may well be one of the most significant systemic and ideological health reforms of modern times. Countries with stronger PHC systems have demonstrably more efficient, effective, and equitable health care. Primary health care can be considered a philosophy, an approach to the delivery and development of services and first contact health services. It is based on a social, rather than biomedical, model of health, with accessibility to and affordability of service as primary objectives.”
That is the powerful opening statement to a new systematic review investigating what are the core primary health care services that Australians living in rural and remote areas should be able to access.
Thanks to one of the researchers, Associate Professor Tim Carey, for reporting on the findings (which you can also read in full in BMC Health Services Research).
The review raises the tantalising question: if these core services can be identified, will this provide some obligation on funders to ensure they are available and accessible?
What primary health care services should residents of rural and remote Australia be able to access?
Tim Carey writes:
The disparity in health outcomes between rural and remote Australians compared to their metropolitan counterparts is well established.
One way of helping to reduce this disparity is to have a clear idea of those primary care services that should be considered “core” or essential to any health service regardless of locality.
In metropolitan areas where a wide range of services is readily available, demarcating core services might not be necessary. In rural and remote places, however, where populations are dispersed, what services are most essential and how those services should be delivered are issues of fundamental importance.
A systematic review was undertaken to identify the services that could reasonably be considered “core”. That is, we wanted to find out what the essential package of primary care services were that any Australian, regardless of geography, had a right to expect access to.
We were also interested in understanding the methodology by which any particular researcher or research group arrived at a selection of core services.
The results surprised us.READ MORE