Evaluation of the GP Super Clinics Program 2007-2008

4.4 Capacity Building within the GP Super Clinics Branch

Page last updated: 2012

In the initial stages, the GP Super Clinics Branch was primarily focused on the establishment aspect, with the provision of funds for construction or refurbishment of buildings. In addition to knowledge and skills related to primary care, this required an understanding of construction, contract management and probity issues, expertise which was not available in the Primary and Ambulatory Care Division or in the newly established GP Super Clinics Branch at the time of implementation. As a result of these gaps being recognised, expertise in these issues was recruited or contracted or occurred through partnership development with other branches within the Department of Health and Ageing.

Development of Funding Agreement

After consulting internally across capital works programs in the Department of Health and Ageing, the Branch worked with external legal advisors to develop the Funding Agreements which would meet the necessary contractual arrangements for the provision of capital funds under the GP Super Clinics Program. While the Department of Health and Ageing had a range of templates in place for Funding Agreements, it was deemed that external independent advice with specific capital works experience was required on this aspect of the Program.

Consistent with Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) requirements, the Program Funding and Procurement Service within DoHA provided guidance and support, to ensure that compliance with all aspects of procurement, policy implementation and risks was effectively managed.

Probity

Probity requirements for the GP Super Clinics Program were developed into probity plans. The probity plans were developed separately for competitively and directly funded sites. However, directly funded sites had to meet the probity requirements as if they were competitive. The purpose of the plans was to ensure all aspects of the distribution of funding were conducted in accordance with all applicable laws and policies and in a manner which a third person would consider to be fair. An independent adviser conducted probity training sessions to ensure staff understood the probity aspects of the Program.

Risk Management Processes

Risk management processes were developed within the Department of Health and Ageing. These were developed for the GP Super Clinics Program and for specific sites and were separated from probity with the support of partners within the Department of Health and Ageing.

Communication Strategy

Following a decision by the Government that public consultations had to be held in each locality prior to the Department conducting each Invitation to Apply, the Communication Strategy was developed in partnership with the Communication Branch within the Department of Health and Ageing. The strategy supported a number of aspects of the program implementation. It aimed to ensure that the communication of simple messages about the GP Super Clinics Program was applied consistently and repeatedly.

General Practice Advice

In the implementation phase of the GP Super Clinics Program 2007-2008, general practice advice was sourced from within the Department of Health and Ageing and from stakeholders including the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) and Australian Medical Association (AMA). In an ongoing arrangement, the Department contracted GPs to contribute to the assessment processes. This advice informed the development of the GP Super Clinics National Program Guide 2008, as well as issues related to general practice and multi-disciplinary care.

Construction Adviser

The Construction Adviser was engaged in October 2010 to review the project documentation for GP Super Clinic projects identified by the Department of Health and Ageing with respect to:
  • the timelines proposed or anticipated for the selected projects
  • review of those timelines and the funding recipient’s performance against them, and where appropriate to interview the funding recipient to clarify areas of uncertainty as to the performance to these timelines
  • reporting to the Department on the outcomes of the interview and any recommendations to restrict and recover any slippages against these timelines
Other advice provided by the Construction Adviser related to the forms of contract most suitable to the projects and contractual provisions that might be incorporated in those contracts to manage and control time and cost based claims during construction. These services were extended where needed, to include separate advice related to the anticipated costs of individual projects, procedures around statutory approvals of projects, and advice on possible means of accelerating progress on particular projects.

Independent Financial Advice

An independent organisation offering a range of skills and experience relevant to the financial viability of integrated, multidisciplinary models of care was engaged to provide independent financial advice on the proposals for each site. The resultant report was provided to each site-specific Assessment Panel. The Independent Financial Adviser was also used to advise in relation to proposals by funding recipients for commercial borrowings.