Commissioning and equity in primary care in Australia: views from Primary Health Networks

Julie Henderson, Sara Javanparast, Tamara Mackean, Toby Freeman, Frances Baum, Anna Ziersch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper reports findings from 55 stakeholder interviews undertaken in six Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in Australia as part of a study of the impact of population health planning in regional primary health organisations on service access and equity. Primary healthcare planning is currently undertaken by PHNs which were established in 2015 as commissioning organisations. This was a departure from the role of Medicare Locals, the previous regional primary health organisations which frequently provided services. This paper addresses perceptions of 23 senior staff, 11 board members and 21 members of clinical and community advisory councils or health priority groups from six case study PHNs on the impact of commissioning on equity. Participants view the collection of population health data as facilitating service access through redistributing services on the basis of need and through bringing objectivity to decision-making about services. Conversely, participants question the impact of the political and geographical context and population profile on capacity to improve service access and equity through service commissioning. Service delivery was seen as fragmented, the model is at odds with the manner in which Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) operate and rural regions lack services to commission. As a consequence, reliance upon commissioning of services may not be appropriate for the Australian primary healthcare context.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)80-89
    Number of pages10
    JournalHealth and Social Care in The Community
    Issue number1
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


    • Australia
    • commissioning
    • equity
    • health services
    • Primary Care Networks


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