COVID-19: A catalyst for rethinking healthcare

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

‘Our nation’s experience in tackling the challenges of COVID-19 provides a catalyst for re-imagining healthcare’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘Not only do we have to be better prepared for future shocks such as climate-related emergencies and pandemics, but we also need a more modern, sustainable and resilient health system.

‘Identifying what is no longer required will be just as important as determining what is.’

Ms Verhoeven was commenting on a new report released today by the AHHA, Australian healthcare after COVID-19: An opportunity to think differently.

‘Following on from the 2019–20 bushfires, COVID-19 has provided the challenge of the century to our health system.

‘Compared to other countries around the world, Australia has done an exceptional job in controlling this disease, but has not been immune to serious challenges, such as with the current situation in Victoria, and in aged care’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Positive actions have included the rapid response from all Australian governments, guided by public health experts, and proactive measures such as international border closures, strengthening of health system capacity to respond to the pandemic, efficient contact tracing, and wide-scale testing.

‘Nevertheless, critical bottlenecks and vulnerabilities have been exposed.

‘These include relying on a highly casualised, under-funded and under-trained workforce in some parts of the health, aged care and disability sectors; a just-in-time approach to medical supplies; and mismatches between who is looking after what, and who is funding what when healthcare has to be changed to match patient needs in emergency situations such as with this pandemic.

Australian healthcare after COVID-19: An opportunity to think differently outlines key features required for a more resilient health system, and 10 steps we should take now to achieve a fairer and healthier Australia’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘We should be factoring into our health policy decisions the social determinants of health, such as housing, income and employment.

‘We should be breaking down the silos between departments of health, community and social services.

‘We should be sharing data across these three areas and looking for smart ways to achieve better health outcomes and address health disparities.

‘In summary, in a post-pandemic Australia, we should be aiming to ensure communities are better able to cope, respond and adapt to new health care challenges and crises, while maintaining the everyday delivery of affordable high-quality health care services.’


Australian healthcare after COVID-19: An opportunity to think differently is available here.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.


Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA, 0403 282 501