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Annual Report 2021/22

Chair Report

As we entered the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, CESPHN has supported primary care to deal with the ongoing challenges of COVID, while resuming some of our plans paused by the pandemic. The health system continues to be significantly affected by the pandemic, with workforce shortages, practice viability and burnout all very real issues in this region. CESPHN continued to support the vaccination rollout to general practices and pharmacies, and through our Vax at Home program we supported more than 500 housebound people to access vaccination. We also promoted the benefits of vaccination to our region’s culturally diverse population.

Early in the year saw the launch of our new 3 year strategic plan.  The plan builds on previous strategies and signals an increasing focus for CESPHN on supporting aged care services, allied health and engaging with the community.  I thank our member organisations, clinical and community councils, our advisory committees, local health districts and specialty health networks for their involvement in developing the plan.

The board was proud to endorse our Climate Change and Population Health Position Statement in March. We are committed to raising awareness of the health impacts of climate change and implementing practical actions at both an organisational level and across the primary care providers we support.   In May we then launched our new allied health engagement strategy as part of our strong commitment to supporting allied health as a key part of the primary health workforce. Work has commenced on providing practical support in connecting digital health technologies, education and training.

The value of PHNs to the health system continues to grow and this year we commissioned 85 health services providing $41 million in funding to deliver mental health, suicide prevention, alcohol and other drugs, Aboriginal Health, aged care and preventative health programs and services across the region.  CESPHN also attracted nearly $8 million in additional government funding for COVID, mental health and aged care initiatives.

This year we welcomed two new directors to the board, Sharlene McKenzie OAM and Sarah Reed. Sharlene is a Wiradjuri woman and brings to the board an in-depth knowledge of issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the region as well as expertise in working with community organisations. Sarah brings expertise in health technology, health communications and social services. I would like to thank our departing director Rosemary Bishop for her contribution as a director.

In late January CESPHN farewelled Dr Michael Moore, our inaugural CEO after more than six years leading the organisation. I want to thank Michael for his dedication and commitment to building the organisation as it transitioned from three Medicare Locals to a strong primary health network. I am also deep grateful to Nathalie Hansen, our new CEO, who has worked with the organisation since it started in July 2015 and has a deep knowledge of our stakeholders and the health landscape. Nathalie has built on the strong foundations set by Michael Moore and together with her executive team, has delivered a comprehensive agenda supporting front line primary care workers and ensured community access to high quality care.

I would also like to thank my fellow board directors for their continued commitment to the organisation and primary health care. Finally, I thank the CESPHN staff for your outstanding dedication and commitment. The board is very proud of your work and wishes you continued success.