Government report highlights need for critical investment in the health system

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

‘Data reported today by the Productivity Commission again highlights the critical investment needed in the health system to address all the care that has been deferred and delayed through the pandemic,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Acting Chief Executive Kylie Woolcock.

The Report on Government Services 2022 - health (part E), released today, details the Steering Committee’s Review of Government Service Provision findings, and provides information on the equity, effectiveness, and efficiency of government services in Australia.

Findings of concern include the decrease of participation in cancer screenings nationwide.

‘These drops in screening will result in people being diagnosed when cancer is at a more advanced stage, when it is more difficult to treat and result in worse prognoses.

‘We know some of this deferral of screening relates to lockdowns, but even those states less impacted by lockdowns have seen significant drops in rates. Action is needed to prioritise early detection of cancers and other preventive health activity,’ continued Ms Woolcock.

This new data comes following reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on the extent of increased waiting times for elective surgery caused by COVID restrictions. These restrictions were originally applied to help ensure adequate health system capacity in responding to rapid escalation in COVID cases.

‘It’s not just a matter of catching up. People’s outcomes are being compromised and traditional models of care will not be enough to overcome the challenges we now face.

‘The health system needs to be enabled to address this backlog. We need the right clinical governance structures to assure quality and safety, with innovative use of the workforce, strategic funding and digital transformations that allow us to focus on improving the outcomes that matter.

‘As we have witnessed during the pandemic, letting go of ‘the way we‘ve always done things’ can be a force for constructive and positive change.’

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

Media enquiries:  Kylie Woolcock, Acting Chief Executive, AHHA
0410 625 830