Women’s Health Centres (WHCs) offer unique value to consumers, practitioners and the NSW health system.
The NSW Ministry of Health currently provides $10.1 million in combined funding each year to 20 Women’s Health Centres in NSW.
A mapping project of the WHCs was completed by NSW Ministry of Health in 2017 to establish a comprehensive understanding of the services provided by WHCs and their alignment with state and local priorities.
Summary of mapping project findings
The WHCs and the non-government sector more broadly, offer unique value to consumers, practitioners and to the NSW health system. The centres are providing a multitude of primary health and wellbeing services to a group of women who may have otherwise only received care and support via the acute system.
Centre staff work collaboratively with other organisations to ensure maximum reach and impact within their current funding arrangements, and therefore represent good value to funding bodies, including the Ministry.
The review has identified that there are real benefits experienced by women as a result of the services offered through the WHCs, and it appears that the centres contribute to the following Commonwealth and State health priorities:
- reducing intimate partner violence-related burden of disease
- reducing mental health related burden of disease
- reducing cancer-related burden of disease
- preventing or delaying chronic disease.
The following service delivery elements have been identified as crucial factors for the provision of wraparound service support for women:
- ease of service access and navigation
- flexibility in service provision
- nimbleness in service provision
Overall, the WHCs are providing a significant number of women in NSW with access to health-related care and support, including counselling and medical appointments with female clinicians, under a relatively unique service delivery model.
A literature review was conducted to inform the mapping project, with a focus on:
- women’s experience of health and the gender based vulnerabilities that influence women’s health
- the services currently available to women through the 20 Women’s Health Centres in NSW
- the models of care that are most likely to positively affect women’s health outcomes.
Key service elements that have been found to positively affect women’s health outcomes identified in this review are:
- delivering quality care that is holistic in scope and recognises women’s overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
- empowering women and promoting their participation as ‘partners’ in their health care
- providing access to female physicians
- facilitating inclusive care, including culturally appropriate care
- creating safe, private and women-friendly spaces for women to access essential health services
- providing opportunities for single site service provision
- promoting continuity of care
- providing access to affordable health services
- adopting a life course approach to women’s health issues.