Board Communiqué - May 2017

The Northern Territory PHN (NT PHN) Board met in Darwin on 29 May 2017. In the lead up to the new financial year and following the Federal Budget on 9 May 2017, the Board considered a range of strategic developments in the primary health care sector, and NT PHN’s progress in Quarter Three. 

Key discussion points:

  • Shortlisted sites for the Health Care Homes Stage One trial were announced as part of the Federal Budget. The Australian Government Department of Health shortlisted 20 primary health care services in the Northern Territory (NT), including General Practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and NTG Primary Health Care sites, including many in remote communities. Implementation of Health Care Homes in the NT will enable sharing of health-systems thinking and expertise between a diversity of providers. NT PHN’s role will be to support stage one Health Care Home sites with their implementation.
  • In February 2017, the NT was named as a trial site for the National Suicide Prevention Trial, with a focus on Indigenous people in the Darwin region. The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Honourable Ken Wyatt, visited Darwin in early May to chair a roundtable of local service providers, community members and government services.  NT PHN will now work to establish a Community Primary Health Care Advisory Group chaired by Minister Wyatt, and the Suicide Prevention Steering Committee chaired by NT PHN. 
  • The NT PHN Board, Community Advisory Council and Top End and Central Australia Clinical Councils had a joint meeting in Alice Springs on 20 May 2017. The meeting discussed a ‘360 degree’ feedback survey from Council members on outcomes and processes since the Councils commenced 18 months ago. The Board and Councils planned to work together to improve processes to ensure Councils can provide ongoing and valued strategic advice to the Board. 
  • The Board noted increasing engagement with health providers across the quarter, including successful Pop-Up PHN events held in Nhulunbuy, Katherine and Alice Springs; run in conjunction with NTGPE’s Mobile Offices, these events provided an opportunity for regionally based health providers to participate in CPD, receive updates on key national health reform initiatives and NT PHN projects, and to network with their colleagues. The Board is focussed on improving engagement with clinicians and noted that a range of clinicians have been appointed within the newly formed NT PHN Clinical Branch. Clinicians will play a vital role in informing service design for NT PHN’s commissioning activities.  
  • The Board was provided with a presentation by NT PHN staff on the primary care data extraction tool, CAT Plus. CAT Plus is a software product that provides decision support to health providers at the point of engagement, extracts general practice data for practice analysis and aggregates general practice data for service planning, reporting and population health needs. The NT Government also made a presentation on the NT Department of Health’s Core Clinical Systems Renewal Program. 
  • Work has progressed on NT PHN’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), with the Board endorsing the NT PHN’s Statement of Reconciliation. Reconciliation Australia is providing feedback on the draft RAP which is likely to be finalised in early 2017-2018. The RAP includes a range of activities to support reconciliation and NT PHN’s constitutional commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people through comprehensive primary health care services.  
  • The Board endorsed NT PHN’s Commissioning Policy and Commissioning Procedure. A range of resources are being developed, including a new online contract management system. This will support NT PHN’s contract management activities with reporting aligned with our Commissioning Policy and Procedure.
  • To support continuous quality improvement, KPMG has been appointed as NT PHN’s internal auditors and will commence in June 2017 with a three-year rolling audit plan from 2017-2018. This will complement financial audits undertaken by Merit Partners.   

The next Board meeting is planned for 28 August 2017 in Alice Springs. 

Directors will meet with NT PHN’s Company Members – AMSANT, the NT Government Department of Health and the Health Providers Alliance NT –  in July 2017. 

Dr Andrew Bell, Chair