A message from the CEO

Video message from Brisbane North PHN’s Chief Executive Officer Libby Dunstan.

I first joined the PHN as Deputy CEO in 2017 and found myself in awe of the sheer breadth of work undertaken across so many program areas.

I respectfully offer my thanks and give kudos to my predecessor, Dr Abbe Anderson, for the years she led this organisation, including the majority of this reporting period.

It would be an understatement to say I took on my new role during tumultuous times for the healthcare sector and the world generally.

Coronavirus has forced us all to rethink the way we do everything and it has been no different for the team at Brisbane North. The way we do business has fundamentally changed and new COVIDSafe protocols govern all aspects of our work.

To their credit, our managers and other staff responded rapidly and admirably to the dramatically changed landscape in which we found ourselves.

We quickly ensured that our information systems supported all staff working safely and securely from home, ensuring business continuity.

These arrangements remain in place, even though we have all largely returned to the office, in case circumstances change for the worse again.

Despite the disruption, I am proud of the significant inroads made on key projects throughout the year, particularly across the mental health and aged care programs and in primary care and hospital integration.

Many new services have commenced as we continue to implement Planning for Wellbeing, our joint regional plan with Metro North Hospital and Health Service (HHS) covering mental health, suicide prevention and alcohol and other drugs.

Among these, the PHN funded three new integrated mental health service hubs from 1 July 2019 to support people with severe mental illness.

We have also refocused the Brisbane MIND program to provide short-term psychological therapies to underserviced population groups who have moderate mental illness and are experiencing financial hardship.

For parents needing perinatal mental health support, we published best practice guidelines for GPs through Brisbane North HealthPathways, providing advice, assessment and service referral information online.

We have also supported the rollout of GP Smart Referrals to enable faster, streamlined management of referrals and less double handling of referrals across the Metro North HHS.

Our suicide prevention campaigns gained traction over the past year. These have included the ‘Talking Heals’ and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-focused ‘Yarns Heal’ campaigns supporting LGBTIQ+ people in our region, and the ‘Reasons to Stay’ campaign–all of which are funded through the National Suicide Prevention Trial.

We also ran two very successful major events before the lockdowns prevented social gatherings. These included our Metro North Health Forum in October 2019 and the Annual Brisbane North Aged Care Forum one month prior, which focused on challenging ageism. Both saw a high turnout from across the health and aged care sectors.

The next time we hosted a forum with the aged care sector it was via webinar, in partnership with Leading Aged Services Australia, and dominated by discussions about COVID-19.

No doubt the pandemic and virtual engagement will continue to shape the way we do business well into next year, but I am confident we are now well adapted to such a scenario.

Thank you for your support and stay safe.

Libby Dunstan

A message from the Chair

The past year has certainly been a whirlwind. It’s a time to reflect on the challenges – but also successes – we’ve experienced in these uncertain times.

Brisbane North PHN Board Chair Dr Anita Green, pictured in 2020.

The continued disruption from COVID-19 has meant we have had to pivot quite significantly during the year to accommodate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and divert resources to ensure primary care and aged care were supported to deliver COVID-19 testing and vaccination for our community.

I’m delighted to report our staff at the PHN have done so seamlessly, despite the additional work demands.

In addition to supporting the Department of Health in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine through general practice and GP Respiratory Clinics across the North Brisbane and Moreton Bay region, the PHN developed implementation plans with the Residential Aged Care Facilities – all while working closely with Queensland Health to overcome various challenges.

To enable new approaches to healthcare, it is crucial for us to work collaboratively with Hospital and Health Services in our region, and this year we continued to work on a range of initiatives with our key partners, Metro North Health and Children’s Health Queensland.

Just one example, the Health Alliance worked in partnership with Caboolture Hospital Maternity Services and Children’s Health Queensland’s Child Health Service to co-design and implement a new pathway for antenatal and postnatal care in Caboolture. The feedback from the ‘Starting Well’ Initiative has been incredibly positive, with clinicians also reporting tangible improved outcomes – more babies born at full term and within a healthy weight range.

Stakeholder engagement is fundamental to our role as a Primary Health Network, and we continue to work with community organisations, health practitioners and the wider community to ensure we are providing the services that people need most and in the way they wish them to be delivered.

I’d like to thank our Clinical Council and Community Advisory Committee members for the important role they play in providing clinical advice and a consumer perspective. The knowledge and range of experiences they bring to inform our work at the PHN is invaluable.

We’ve continued to support our GPs and practices to improve quality of care, adopt new tools and of particular importance over the last year, deal with the disruption of COVID-19.

In November 2020 the Board welcomed our first Indigenous Board member. Jody Currie has brought a wealth of knowledge and community experience to the team. The Brisbane North PHN members continue to provide high standards of governance to underpin the work of our staff and stakeholders. I thank them all for this.

On behalf of the Board I also thank Libby Dunstan and our extraordinary team at Brisbane North PHN for their enormous efforts and unwavering commitment in 2020/21.

Dr Anita Green

Next

A strategic and collaborative alliance with our local hospital services