Health policy research highlighting the importance of quality care at every stage of life

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Access to quality healthcare is essential at all stages of life. While the federal government has released new health policies designed to improve the health system, social determinants that start in childhood such as education, home environment, and later in adulthood, employment and social and community circles remain key factors in equitable access to healthcare that need to be addressed.

Released today, the October issue of the Australian Health Review, the Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association’s peer-reviewed journal, highlights the importance of access to quality services and good health from childhood to later stages of life.   

‘A number of articles in this issue of the Australian Health Review examine the quality of maternal and child health services, including complaints and the acceptability of the healthcare environment,’ says Australian Health Review Editor-in-Chief Dr Sonĵ Hall.

‘If a health service is unwelcoming, or considered sub-optimal by the community, people disengage and are more likely to avoid care. This could lead to poorer health outcomes in our most vulnerable community members, with potential lifelong effects.’

Research led by the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University, analyses patient and family complaints concerning nursing and midwifery care. The study found that this type of analysis could offer ways of targeting areas of service provision in need of improvement and highlighting other areas performing well.

This issue also features research considering the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, on frontline workers and patients alike.

‘Mental health across a lifespan from childhood to older age is in part related to individual social determinants but is also influenced by life circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘As detailed in this issue, over the COVID-19 pandemic Victorian Emergency Departments saw an increase in children under 18 presenting with eating disorders, self-harm and anxiety disorders, highlighting the need to strengthen frontline mental health support. 

‘The pandemic has wreaked havoc on many, especially health care workers who daily confront the effects of the virus. A perspective piece on the impact of compassion fatigue or the ‘cost of caring’, shows that healthcare workers need to be supported by policy options and interventions that look after their wellbeing and support staff retention.

‘A policy reflection from Professor Harvey Whiteford at the University of Queensland, also provides expert insight into current mental health issues and solutions.’

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is the independent peak membership body and advocate for the Australian healthcare system and a national voice for universally accessible, high quality healthcare in Australia. 

Media enquiries: Dr Sonĵ Hall, Editor in Chief, Australian Health Review 
0427 613 587