Building on the good working relationship between the NRHA and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), we had our regular quarterly meeting on 20 November.
This was an early opportunity to discuss the implications for the analysis and reporting of data by rurality of Minister Nash's recent announcement of the Government's decision to switch from ASGC-RA to the Modified Monash model early next year for the allocation of rural GP incentive payments.
To meet with senior staff of the AIHW gives the NRHA the opportunity to exchange views on recently-released reports and for a general update on each other's work. The recent meeting included consideration of planned follow-up to the 4th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium held in September, and the next steps in the NRHA's work on access to medicines in rural and remote areas.
Both parties are keenly interested in the possibility of producing 'easy to use' figures on GP numbers by region that are adjusted for local health need. Discussion is continuing.
There was also a brief consideration of how to identify and report on very substantial regional differences that are hidden by averaging - for instance when reporting by Medicare Local. This led, naturally enough, to some speculation about measuring and reporting on the work of the Primary Health Networks when they are in business next year.
A few days after this meeting the NRHA was represented as Peter Dutton opened the AIHW's new building at Bruce. We were given a personal guided tour - which left us in no doubt as to the quality of both the environment in which the AIHW's important work will continue and our relationship with the agency.