Background and Context:
Primary care is the mainstay of Australian healthcare, providing comprehensive ongoing care and functioning as the gateway to the health system. Primary care providers have an important role to play across the spectrum of cancer control and while there are examples of this occurring both in Australia and internationally engagement is variable. A system-wide response is required to address the barriers to full and effective engagement.
To enhance the role of primary care in cancer control, at both a system and individual level.
The Cancer Institute NSW is the government’s cancer control agency in New South Wales, Australia. Under the NSW Cancer Plan 2011-2015, the Institute has identified enhancing the role of primary care in cancer control as a key strategic objective.
Greater engagement between cancer and primary care systems, and a patient-centred focus are required before a comprehensive enhancement of primary care’s role in cancer control can be achieved. In the Institute an overarching program is underway including providing specific cancer data to primary care organisations, promoting evidence for an enhanced primary care role and fostering relationships between hospitals and primary care organisations around cancer control projects. However barriers including attitudes regarding care responsibilities, nihilism, inadequate information flows, underdeveloped/underutilised models of care and funding structures need to be overcome. Further work is planned to improve transitions and information sharing and support the implementation of models where primary care plays an enhanced role.
Outcomes/What was learned:
There is support for an enhanced primary care role in cancer control however ongoing development, strong relationships and change management programs are required to support implementation. This work highlights the potential challenges associated with political reform and emphasises the need for programs and policy responses to affect change through multiple channels.