Primary Health Networks (PHNs), of which WA Primary Health Alliance operates all three in Western Australia, are commissioners of services in the primary care sector on behalf of the Australian Government.
The concept of commissioning is relatively new in the Australian healthcare context but, in essence, refers to an iterative cycle of activities whereby investment in services is aligned to needs and evidence of what works, services are developed and shaped accordingly, and accountability for service delivery is underpinned by monitoring and evaluation.
Australian Government funding through WA Primary Health Alliance for primary care services in Western Australia has increased substantially since our establishment.
Expenditure on services and programs was $40 million in 2015/16, increasing to $67.8 million in 2016/17 and $97.8 million in 2017/18, representing a 44% increase in funding support for primary care between those two years. In 2018/19 Australian Government funding support for primary care through WA Primary Health Alliance will exceed $100 million.
Approximately 50% of program expenditure is on mental health services and a further 13% on drug and alcohol treatment support. A further 20% of program expenditure is through flexible funding, allowing us to respond to national priorities and local needs through commissioning services.