Regionally-tailored primary care 'positive' for maternal, child health

31 July, 2014

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has welcomed the release of a report by the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) which highlights the benefits of regionally-tailored primary care for child and maternal health.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said the report presented data at the Medicare Local level, showing how some organisations have broken with tradition when it comes to maternal and child health outcomes.

"While regional and remote areas and areas of lower socio-economic status traditionally have lower rates of antenatal visits and poorer measures of maternal and child health, today's report shows that a number of Medicare Locals are bucking the trend," Verhoeven said.

"It is clear from the new report that some Medicare Locals have been very successful in tailoring primary healthcare to the needs of their regions, and have achieved positive health outcomes as a result," Verhoeven said.

Australia can do better

Verhoeven also said while overall numbers of infants and children who die prematurely have declined significantly over recent years, the report shows clear areas for where Australia can do better in tailoring primary care needs to their regions.

"The value of presenting data at the local level means that we can look at which regions are doing better than others and encourage conversations between health service managers of those areas with the ones not doing so well," Verhoeven said.  

The NHPA's report presents data at the local level for a number of indicators of child and maternal health.  Specifically, the report provides data at the Medicare Local level for infant and young child mortality, low birthweight, first trimester antenatal visits, and smoking during pregnancy.

"This report provides a great opportunity to share success stories of where primary healthcare, tailored to meet local needs, can improve health outcomes.  And we all know that strong primary care serves to alleviate stress on other areas of the health system, in particular on our hospitals."