On 1 July 2007 Queensland Divisions of General Practice officially becomes General Practice Queensland (GPQ). The journey to a new company structure does not change the mission and values of the organisation and programs and collaborations continue to deliver results.
The beginning of the year marks the start of GPQ’s involvement in the Connecting Health Care in Communities (CHIC) initiative. Through this initiative, twenty partnership councils are established to enhance service coordination through shared planning and agreed roles across traditional boundaries. The planning priorities address chronic and complex care, integrated health promotion and illness prevention, early childhood health, community mental health and drug and alcohol services. Towards the end of the year GPQ and Griffith University establish a partnership to form a Collaborative Research Hub. The key focus is to increase the relevance and use of health service research to inform decision making – bridging the gap between research and practice.
Throughout 2008, GPQ continues to provide ongoing leadership and support for members as Health Reform generates excitement about new opportunities as well as uncertainty with the outcome of change. At a national level, key events included the election of a new Government, the formation of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, the Prevention Taskforce, the Primary Health Care Strategy, the Australian 2020 summit, the regeneration of Health Care Agreements, the CoAG Health and Ageing Working Group, the GP Super Clinics Initiative and numerous policy papers from policy institutes and academic bodies. Focus areas for GPQ programs and initiatives at this time include eHealth solutions, improving access to outpatient services, aged care access and immunisation.
GPQ, together with the Divisions, continues to focus on increasing access to appropriate, affordable and timely primary healthcare that is equitably distributed across Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health remains a key focus and GPQ provides high level liaison and planning in relation to the COAG Closing the Gap initiative. Efforts to improve the physical health of people with a severe mental illness also receives a boost as the Activate Mind and Body project, a joint initiative between GPQ and Queensland Health, receives funding to develop resources for primary healthcare.
In late 2009, GPQ hosts a series of Primary Health Care Roundtables designed to connect organisations and share information relating to the national health reform agenda. It was through coming together regularly that organisations recognised the importance of partnership and the discussions that were taking place. As a result, participants agreed to formalise the Queensland Primary Health Care Network (QPHCN) which is still held quarterly by CheckUP.
During 2010, GPQ continues to provide statewide support for Closing the Gap initiatives. The formation of a statewide Closing the Gap Steering Committee to guide implementation of all GPQ Closing the Gap Programs is a key activity.
In July 2010, a Closing the Gap collaborative, which started as a partnership between QAIHC and GPQ, brings together 21 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services with medical clinics, 13 Aboriginal Medical Services and 17 general practices from seven divisions in areas with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. The partnership results in linkages between Closing the Gap programs across Queensland and the sharing of valuable resources.
The beginning of 2011 saw major flooding throughout much of South East Queensland and the devastation of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi to the state’s North. GPQ provided a rapid response to these natural disasters with the creation of an action plan to support affected Divisions and general practices. GPQ also provides representation on the statewide Human and Social Recovery Subcommittee and coordinates the delivery of Skills for Psychological Recovery training for primary health care providers in flood and cyclone damaged communities.
In May 2011, GPQ and QAIHC signs a collaborative agreement. Both organisations stated their intention to work together in a systematic and sustained way to overcome the significant logistical, environmental and lifestyle factors that perpetuate the health divide between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons and other Australians. In November, GPQ hosts an Outreach Services Gala Dinner to celebrate more than a decade of increasing access to medical and specialist services in rural and remote Queensland through the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program (MSOAP). 2012 was a watershed year as GPQ ends its role as the state-based peak body for Divisions of General Practice and starts its transition to an independent, industry body dedicated to advancing primary healthcare.
Health reform brings change with eleven Medicare Locals to be established in Queensland by June, all evolving from the Divisions of General Practice. GPQ plays an important role supporting the evolution of Medicare Locals and ensuring the smooth transition of Commonwealth-funded programs.
As GPQ supports the Divisions through significant change it also must focus on its own transformation. This includes constitutional change as well as a new business model, revised strategic direction and new branding. Changes to the constitution enable the new Medicare Locals and other organisations with a primary health focus to become members. In October 2012, the new CheckUP corporate branding was unveiled along with the launch of a Foundation Membership campaign. It brings an enthusiastic response with 45 like-minded organisations becoming members.
By the end of the year the transition to CheckUP is well underway with Commonwealth funded programs and responsibilities smoothly transferred to the eleven newly established Medicare Locals.