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Formatting a Plan


The Foreword is the endorsement of the plan by the CE/Chairman/General Manager/Service Director. It explains the overall purpose of the plan and its relevance and importance to the organization's mission, goals and strategic direction.

Executive Summary

This is a brief summary covering the major issues, strategies and recommendations of the service plan.


The Glossary provides a list of key terms used in the plan and their definition. It is particularly important to define the key words which define the service and which are relevant to the service plan.


A list of all abbreviations used in the plan with their full text e.g. ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics.


A short outline of the reasons for the service plan, the process for developing the plan and the key issues considered in the plan.

Our Community

Context/Operating Environment

The Context describes and analyses the environment for planning for improved health and improved services. The policy context should be briefly outlined. This may include Commonwealth, NSW and Area Health Service policies. International studies/policies may be relevant.

Background demography, geography, epidemiology

The section should also include relevant information on the local geography, demography, and epidemiology. The implications of these features and issues for this service plan should be clearly articulated.
Population age/sex, numbers and projections, demographic trends, socio-economic information e.g. occupations, employment, social welfare recipients, Aboriginality, Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD), Youth, Aged etc
Mortality data (ABS) e.g. life expectancy, death rates, morbidity data (NSW Health) - major causes of hospital admission and utilization. Relevant information may also be accessed from the National Health Surveys, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and public health units.

Our Patients, Consumers and Communities

This section briefly outlines the views of community members on the service and current strategies e.g. outcomes of public meetings, focus groups, NGO consultations etc. Detailed information can be appended. The inclusion of this section ensures that provider, management and other key stakeholder views are well considered within the document.

Our Services

This section should briefly describe the current model of care or approach to the issue or the current service or service network. It should also identify and analyse the resources currently used in terms of personnel, finances and assets.
A full description of the network of hospital (inpatient and ambulatory) and community health services, GP services, specialist services, ATSI services, NGO services, nursing homes etc will usually be required in a service plan. Detailed background information should be appended. Linkages between services should also be described e.g. common clinical assessment tools, record linkages and referral patterns.
Hospital services should be specifically described in terms of their role (using the Guide to Role Delineation), beds, services, activity levels and location. Similarly, community health services should be specifically described in terms of their role, location, type of service and occasions of service.
Service/strategy deficiencies, gaps or overlaps should be clearly identified and analysed. Current strategies that have positive outcomes/benefits should be noted.

Forecasted Changes

This section provides a brief outline and analysis of the forecasted changes in demand. The implications of this forecast for the service should be analyzed in terms of the service structure, personnel, recurrent costs, assets etc. The timeframe for these changes should be outlined.

Major Issues or Planned Services or Strategies

This section provides a clear direction for improving the health, health service and health outcomes. The strategies should be consistent with regional, area and departmental objectives and service plans.
If a service is indicated, the required service response/change should be clearly identified. The appropriate auspice, service level, networks, mix, roles, volume and distribution of services should be outlined. The implications of the recommended changes) should be clearly articulated e.g. staffing changes, recurrent budget changes, asset implications, flow pattern reversals, staff training needs, impact on support services. The health benefits and outcomes of the changes) should be clearly identified.

Action Plan

The action plan provides specific, clear and concise steps for the implementation of the plan. Usually the action plan relates service goals to specific objectives/interventions, identifies particular personnel responsible for implementation, and specifies timeframes, resources, targets/performance indicators and expected outcomes.

The action plan is usually presented in tabular form. For example:

Goal 1: To .................


Performance Indicator

Expected Outcome


Resources Required

Responsible Person/Group

 That ......






The action plan should indicate the approach to managing, monitoring and evaluating the plan.


All books, articles, reports and sources used in the text should be appropriately and fully referenced.


People who have been consulted or involved in the planning process should be listed alphabetically with their name and title.


All appendixes should be carefully labelled and numbered