Strengthening Health Care in the Community

Project Status

Gawaine Powell Davies

Team members
Julie McDonald, Karen Gardner, Mark Harris, Elizabeth Harris


There is significant change in community based services, with the establishment of Primary Health Networks, the development of new and sometimes cross sector service models and an interest in moving to commissioning services. While this has the potential to strengthen primary health care, it may also damage it through further fragmenting services, disrupting partnerships, and failing to address equity issues. The guide is intended to assist planners and service developers to identify aspects of primary health care than need to be safeguarded and promoted through service changes.


To assist planners and service developers to ensure that changes to services strengthen primary health care and the network of health services in the community.

Design and Method

A review of relevant literature, consultation with key informants and input from an advisory committee. The guide will be trialled at a workshop in June 2016.


Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity (2016). Strengthening health care in the community: a decision support tool. Sydney, Agency for Clinical Innovation.

Strengthening Health Care in the Community

Developing a guide to strengthening health care in the community, for those involved in planning and managing community based health services.

This Guide provides a framework for assessing the likely impact of a way of organising and providing health care in the community, and in particular whether it:

  • Addresses population and patient needs in an equitable way;
  • Is likely to lead to care that is high quality, effective and safe;
  • Is sustainable, and will strengthen the system of health care in the community; and
  • Is likely to provide value for money.

It has been developed with Local Health Districts/Networks in mind, although it may also be useful for Primary Health Networks and other organisations providing health care in the community. It can be used for a variety of purposes:

  • Reviewing existing services, or areas of service provision: perhaps within a regular quality improvement cycle, as part of re-organising services (which may include decommissioning some services), or determining how well a particular approach to health care is working;
  • Assessing a proposed change, or comparing possible service options: the guide provides a structured approach to describing and assessing competing alternatives;
  • Planning services: it can be used in developing service specifications for planning or commissioning;
  • Providing training or facilitation: it can be used for training in planning, commissioning and re-designing service