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Australian Journal of Primary Health
  The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
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Call for Papers

We are preparing a special issue of Australian Journal of Primary Health on the following topic:

  • Is commissioning the solution for better health outcomes?

Guest editors: Professor Hal Swerissen and Kate Silburn
(Australian Institute for Primary Care & Ageing)

In any health system there are mechanisms for organising and delivering services to meet community needs. Increasingly, many of the organising functions are being devolved to geographically defined catchment-level (or regional) structures. These structures typically include a governing body that is given the responsibility for a range of actions, which might include assessing population health needs, setting priorities, specifying outcomes, designing appropriate services, allocating resources, contracting with providers, monitoring progress and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the services that are delivered. The combination of these functions is often referred to as ‘commissioning’.

The United Kingdom (Smith et al. 2004) and New Zealand (McCormick and Hooton 2011) have significant experience in this, and commissioning is now attracting interest in Australia. But the experience of commissioning has been mixed and a number of different approaches to catchment-level health system organisation have emerged over time (Checkland et al. 2012). This special issue of Australian Journal of Primary Health will explore the potential and the problems of commissioning and other catchment-level mechanisms as an approach for improving health.

Key questions

  • What is the problem commissioning is trying to solve?
  • What impact does commission have on the organisation of health care providers?
  • What are challenges of implementing commissioning?
  • How successful has commissioning been in improving health outcomes?
  • Which models and approaches to commissioning are more successful?

Papers should be submitted to the journal through our online journal management system ScholarOne Manuscripts by 27 February 2015.

The Australian Journal of Primary Health is published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Australian Institute for Primary Care and Ageing and the School of Public Health, La Trobe University.

The Australian Journal of Primary Health publishes Forum articles, including: policy reports, literature reviews, research papers, letters and practice & innovation papers. We encourage practitioners, service providers and consumers to write about their experiences in field or case studies about their experiences of commissioning or contracting in health services under the Forum or Practice & Innovation sections of the Journal.


  • Checkland K, Harrison S, Snow S, McDermott I, Coleman A (2012) Commissioning in the English National Health Service: what’s the problem? Journal of Social Policy 41(3), 533–550.
  • McCormick IA, Hooton R (2011) The ‘A, B, C’ and ‘1, 2, 3’ of alliances in health. New Zealand Doctor 31(July).
  • Smith JA, Mays N, Dixon J, Goodwin N, Lewis R, McClelland S, McLeod H, Wyke S (2004) A review of the effectiveness of primary care-led commissioning and its place in the UK NHS. The Health Foundation, London, UK.


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