Funding Inspires Collaborative Innovation to Improve After Hours Health Care Services

A Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) evaluation of the After Hours Collaborative Innovation Grants project has found that the grants fostered innovative approaches to improving after hours care.

The project was one of several funded through the WVPHN After Hours Primary Health Care Program in 2018/19 and was established to support local health care providers to undertake collaborative planning and innovation work to achieve sustainable after hours service improvements across the region.

Four health services in western Victoria were awarded funding totaling $20,000 under the grants: Otway Health, Lorne Community Hospital, Hepburn Health Service (HHS) and Wimmera Health Care Group (WHCG).

Great Ocean Road Health (GORH; the amalgamation of Otway Health and Lorne Community Health) used the funding on initiatives to support expanded use of nurse practitioners, general practitioner (GP) registrars, and rural and isolated practice endorsed registered nurses (RIPERN) in the region to address after hours health care needs.

HHS increased access to important allied health services beyond the current nine to five, Monday to Friday arrangements as well as offering opportunity for experienced staff to provide a mix of public and privately funded allied health services.

WHCG established a new emergency response course for local GPs and nurses to help GPs and nursing team members increase their competency, knowledge and experience when dealing with a range of urgent, unplanned presentations in Urgent Care Centres.

All funded services achieved their initial objectives and all were able to meet at least one of the key priority areas.

WVPHN CEO Dr Leanne Beagley said results of the evaluation demonstrated the importance in achieving sustainable after hours service improvements across the region.

“We have received some very positive feedback from the four involved health services. They have indicated that our focus on garnering innovative approaches to deliver after hours care has resulted in collaborative efforts to ensure projects are sustainable beyond the life of the funding,” said Dr Beagley.

“As a result of making collaboration a priority, the health services found that overall relationships between health services and staff were significantly strengthened, which is a critical element to the effective delivery of primary health care services.”

Dr Beagley also said the evaluation highlighted some great opportunities for further developments moving forward.

“We will continue to focus on building workforce capacity, integrating innovative technological programs such as telehealth, and identification of priority areas for future funding which demonstrate greater levels of sustainability beyond the lifespan of funding.”

WVPHN will address the key recommendations gathered via health service interviews, participant surveys, community surveys and project reports to better improve after hours health care outcomes for the community.

For more information on after hours care, please contact our After Hours Program team via afterhours@westvicphn.com.au.