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NQPHN releases new report on the health needs of northern Queenslanders

Published 31 March 2022

Northern Queensland Primary Health Network’s (NQPHN) Health Needs Assessment 2022-24 identifies key priority health areas for the North Queensland region.


The Health Needs Assessment (HNA) is an annual report undertaken to inform discussion around the health needs of the NQPHN region and identifying service delivery gaps and health workforce challenges. The report combines consumer perspectives and service mapping to identify the key health needs and health care priorities specific to North Queensland.

The new HNA considers the areas of chronic conditions, mental health, alcohol and other drug treatment, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Under each of these areas key priorities have been identified in alignment with NQPHN's Strategic Plan. These evidence-based findings will be used to inform NQPHN’s activities over the next three-year period, and to address the recognised health care needs.

NQPHN stakeholder engagement during the development of the HNA included:

  • nine stakeholder consultation events, held over a one-week period
  • a total of 120 attendees, with a mix between online and face to face meetings
  • 57 responses received for the NQPHN online feedback form
  • 46% of respondents agreed the HNA presentation helped them understand the role of the PHN better, and 21.1% strongly agreed.

“The HNA describes our population demography, lifestyle behaviours, health service use, and health service provision across the primary and tertiary health sectors,” said NQPHN Chief Executive Officer Robin Whyte.

“Development of this document has been a major undertaking, and I want to acknowledge the contributions of the local service providers, consumers, and health professionals we consulted as part of this process.”

“We work with local healthcare providers to help deliver a range of projects and services, in areas including mental health, Indigenous health, health promotion, alcohol and other drugs, and chronic conditions.

"NQPHN is always looking to collaborate with local service providers on innovative ways to improve patient and practitioner experience, health outcomes, and the coordination of care across the system" said Ms Whyte.

The information collated as part of the assessment process helps improve health outcomes for all residents and helps northern Queenslanders live happier, healthier, longer lives.

Key priority actions identified

Population Health

  • Evidence-based commissioning for chronic conditions.
  • Evidence-based primary care commissioning for priority populations.
  • Improving access to primary care services after-hours.
  • Joint regional planning for improved health outcomes in North Queensland.
  • Preventative screening for reducing chronic disease.
  • Health innovation through partnerships.

Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs

  • Review of mental health stepped care for NQPHN.
  • Supporting community-based suicide prevention.
  • Improving access to mental health services for young people living in North Queensland.
  • Improving continuity of care from primary care to specialist Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services.

GPs and other Primary Care Professionals

  • Strengthen primary care workforce improving safety and quality of care.
  • Strengthen and stabilise North Queensland’s primary health care workforce.
  • Safe and culturally appropriate care in primary health.
  • Workforce pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Improved access to healthcare for our Torres and Cape population.
  • Support workforce to delivery safe and appropriate care.
  • Supporting greater treatment capacity across the NQPHN Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) sector.

First Nations Health

  • Maternal and child health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early intervention and prevention for maternity and postnatal care.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait early intervention and prevention for improved sexual health.
  • Health Equity for Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).
  • Integrated team care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with chronic conditions.
  • Partnering for better access to drug and alcohol services for Indigenous Australians.
  • Social and emotional wellbeing for Indigenous Australians.
  • Access to mental health, alcohol and other drug services for Indigenous Australians.

System integration

  • Health continuity through system and data integration.
  • Build health intelligence through data insights and integration.
  • Improve the use of risk factors for early intervention and prevention.
  • Increase digital maturity and data intelligence of our primary healthcare providers.
  • Utilising data for improved health outcomes for Northern Queensland.
  • Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) for chronic condition management.
  • Promote digital adoption for patient healthcare integration.
  • Improving integration across primary care services for AOD.

For more information, view the Health Needs Assessment here. A summary of the key priorities can also be viewed here.

Last updated: 07 April 2022