Government’s $1.25 billion health boost welcome but let’s spend all health money wisely

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

With the Morrison Government announcing a $1.25 billion boost to health ahead of today’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Adelaide, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is calling on political leaders to put people first and ensure that budget commitments to health are wise.

‘This will mean some reforms instead of tinkering around the edges financially with a system that reflects the medical knowledge, infectious diseases and patterns of illness, injury and death of 40 years ago’, says AHHA Senior Research Director, Dr Linc Thurecht.

‘A year ago, AHHA gave Health Ministers an early Christmas present—a blueprint on how to transform our healthcare system into a fit-for-purpose 21st century system that will meet the needs and expectations of the Australian population—a population that is rapidly ageing and suffering more long-term chronic diseases than at any other time in history.’

‘As we count down to the next federal election, there’s even greater reason to remind our political leaders of their responsibility for universal healthcare—that is, equitable access to health services that does not depend on ability to pay.

‘It’s no use investing in research and innovation if we don’t have health services in place which are focused on value and outcomes, and ensure that all Australians can access affordable, safe, quality care. This requires investing in resources, training and data to maximise the value achieved through health spending.

‘The health inequity experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be at the top of the priority list—and investments here need to be aimed at community-led solutions in primary care.

‘New workforce models, including using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health coaches, provide an opportunity to build a stronger Aboriginal health workforce as well as improve health outcomes and community capacity to care for those who are sick.

‘Indigenous Australians discharged from hospitals also need to be able to access medicines through the Closing the Gap PBS measure—which they can’t right now. There’s no value in sending people home from hospital without the care and medicines they need to stay healthy.

‘New workforce arrangements are also needed to ensure people living in rural Australia can access care. There’s been a significant commitment to rural GP care in the past year—and this now needs to be extended to allied health. There are far too many rural communities in Australia that don’t have access to physiotherapists, speech therapists and other allied health services.

‘Also needed is more money for public dental health services, and a commitment to extend the National Partnership Agreement beyond its current expiry date of 30 June 2019. We estimate at least $500 million per year is required to meet current demand’, Dr Thurecht said.

More information about the AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au

Visit ahha.asn.au/blueprint to read Healthy people, healthy systems and see our budget proposals.

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

Media enquiries:  

Dr Linc Thurecht, Senior Research Director

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0401 393 729