Primary Health Care Reform

The Australian Government is developing a Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan to drive reform of the primary health care system in Australia over the next decade.

Page last updated: 13 October 2021

Overview

Stronger primary health care has been identified as part of the first pillar of the Commonwealth’s Long Term National Health Plan and is essential to the third pillar covering mental health and preventive health. The Long Term Health Plan recognises the essential part played by primary health care in providing access to healthcare services and in responding to growing community expectations and changing needs.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care announced a Primary Health Reform Steering Group (Steering Group) in October 2019 to advise on the development of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan and implementation of Voluntary Patient Registration.

Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan (10 Year Plan)

Like all national systems, the primary health care system needs to be continuously modified, improved, and modernised to ensure that it delivers the best, contemporary health care, to meet today's and tomorrow's health challenges. Not only does our most accessed and efficient sector need to keep up with these new and emerging challenges; but a better resourced primary health care system is uniquely placed to deliver well-coordinated, comprehensive, more equitable and importantly, evidence-based and high-quality preventative care, representing the maximum opportunity to alter disease trajectory.

The 10 Year Plan is complemented by health reforms stemming from and linked with the Government’s Long Term National Health Plan. The reforms will be implemented during the life of the 10 Year Plan. Many include targeted actions to improve equity-related outcomes for people who experience access and care disparities.

The 10 Year Plan is expected to be finalised in late 2021.

Voluntary Patient Registration

In the 2019-20 Budget, the Government announced a Voluntary Patient Enrolment (VPE) initiative for patients aged 70 years and over. The Government subsequently announced the extension of this measure to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the delivery of health care and highlighted the importance of providing access to non-face to face care to the Australian population. In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government introduced temporary MBS telehealth items for primary care to allow doctors, nurses, allied health providers and specialists to deliver services via telehealth. As a result of COVID-19 and the introduction of the temporary MBS telehealth items, the previously agreed VPE model did not commence on 1 July 2020.

The Government remains committed to implementing a revised patient registration model and its investment in primary health care.

The Government is actively working with health and system experts, including the Primary Health Reform Steering Group, on a revised Voluntary Patient Registration (VPR) model called MyGP.

MyGP will form part of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

Consultation

The Steering Group has been developing its recommendations through a process of extensive stakeholder consultation. It released a discussion paper for consultation outlining 20 recommendations aimed at improving the delivery of primary health care in Australia, between 15 June 2021 and 27 July 2021. This feedback has been considered by the Steering Group, which has now submitted its advice to Government. For more information, read the Steering Group’s recommendations (PDF, 715 kB).

The 10 Year Plan is the Government's high-level response to the work of the Steering Group, and provides an opportunity to set the framework for reform over the next 10 years. The Plan draws on input from consultation with individuals and organisations across the country from late 2019 to mid-2021.

The consultation period is now open on the draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan. We want to hear from people and organisations with an interest in primary health care and in what a future-focused system can deliver for every Australian. Feedback from this consultation will contribute to the development of the final plan. To make a submission, visit the Consultation Hub. The consultation closes 11:59 pm, 9 November 2021.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding the Plan, please feel free to contact mailto:primaryhealthcarereform@health.gov.au">primaryhealthcarereform@health.gov.au for further information.