Notice of Closure of GP PASA Service
Friday, January 31 2020
After almost 20 years of service history within the Adelaide primary health care landscape, it is with a sense of resignation that Adelaide PHN is informing stakeholders of the imminent closure of the GP PASA service effective from Friday 31 January 2020.
GP PASA has been a unique South Australian service, assisting GPs and patients with accessing one-off psychiatric assessments provided under MBS Item Number 291. Over the years, the GP PASA service has aimed to support access to timely, seamless and affordable psychiatric advice to inform treatment and care planning for GPs and consumers. In the current landscape and despite multiple caretakers, service reviews and models, provision of all three of these aims has been unachievable.
Key challenges faced that led to GP PASA service closure
The GP PASA service is not attached to any formal Commonwealth or State funded programs, and in recent years Adelaide PHN has provided significant in-kind support to try and sustain the service for the betterment of the primary health care sector.
It is acknowledged that the timely access to mental health care, particularly psychiatry consultation, remains an ongoing challenge for general practitioners in South Australia. Therefore, Adelaide PHN has invested significant time and absorbed the financial investment to try and sustain GP PASA through multiple iterations and redesigns. Working with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and through the support of a small number of dedicated psychiatrists, GP PASA has persisted. However, variable appointment availability and the inability to leverage more interest and psychiatry involvement (especially for bulk billed appointments), consistent problems with the appropriateness of referrals (e.g. outside scope of the program) and client non-attendance has seen forecasting of waiting times become longer (in excess of 6 months) and become harder to predict.
In 2019 the GP PASA service model was adapted to include the option for Clinical Care Coordination provided through Links to Wellbeing and Sonder (Adelaide PHN’s two major primary mental health commissioned providers) for clients as they waited for a psychiatry 291 assessment appointment. This change intended to enhance communication and put processes in place to improve patient safety and experience. Unfortunately, most clients declined the option for clinical care coordination, and the nature of the GP PASA service remained that of a third-party client booking system and waiting list management.
Despite the best efforts to streamline the services, due to the cumulative issues, extensive waiting lists and subsequent clinical risks, the regrettable decision has been made to cease GP PASA as of 31st January 2020.
Transition plan and recommendations moving forward
- For clients referred to GP PASA prior to 31 January 2020:
All existing 291 assessment appointments listed with the GP PASA service by participating psychiatrists will be filled by those clients already on GP PASA waiting lists. Once the GP PASA team have exhausted available appointments, clients still on the waiting list for GP PASA whom are not able to access an appointment will be offered clinical care coordination and/or referred back to their GP to access a direct referral to a psychiatrist. A resource list of psychiatrists who are willing to offer bulk-billed 291 appointments can be requested through Adelaide PHN’s Central Referral Unit Primary Mental Health Enquiry Line: 1300 898 213.
- For GPs seeking a 291 assessment after GP PASA Closure (from 31 January 2020):
GPs seeking 291 assessment for eligible consumers will need to refer directly to psychiatrists. Where critical information about a client’s care emerges or changes, it can be communicated directly between the medical team (GP and treating psychiatrist) and consumer. GPs can search for a psychiatrist through the “Find a Psychiatrist” option on The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists website (ranzcp.org/home). Alternatively, state-based mental health services are provided through community health centres and hospitals (see SA Health website for further information).
Key Links and Resources
- RANZCP's Your Health In Mind 'Find a Psychiatrist' Page
- SA Health’s Mental Health Services Page
- Explore Adelaide PHN’s Directory of Services and Programs
including a suite of primary mental health care commissioned services available across the Adelaide region
- To make an enquiry or provide feedback to Adelaide PHN please email firstname.lastname@example.org