Proposed cuts to ABS Patient Experience Survey should concern us all

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Reports that the Australian Bureau of Statistics is considering cutting its Patient Experience Survey should be of concern to everybody who wants health policy based on evidence rather than anecdote, say the Consumers Health Forum, and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Patient Experience Survey collects data on access and barriers to a range of health care services across the system including primary care, hospitals, pathology and diagnostic imaging. It has been used by researchers, policy makers and health service providers to inform and because it is annual they have been able to track changes over time.

‘It is an invaluable source of information about how people interact with the health system. At a time when the Government is initiating some major reforms to the health system and we are looking to move towards a consumer centred health care system it is imperative that we have a solid evidence base to work from. We need more information on people’s experience of the health system not less’, Leanne Wells, CEO of Consumers Health Forum, said.

‘Without this survey and the data it provides, it will be difficult to gauge the impact of the reforms both now and into the future. Even if this is only seen as a short-term measure with the intent to perhaps re-instate it in the future, the value of the series will be significantly undermined.

‘Reducing the frequency will also have a negative impact on its value, particularly as we are in a fast-moving environment of change in health service delivery’, said Ms Wells.

Alison Verhoeven, AHHA Chief Executive said, ‘It is a false economy to end such valuable data collections on patient experience and access to a range of healthcare services at a time of multiple reform processes across the health sector. Without reliable data we have no way of monitoring the impact of reform, and could end up wasting limited financial resources along the way.’

‘A lot of people are putting time and effort into redesigning the system and they need to know that the changes are providing benefits to health consumers using the system—this would be a short-sighted move, given the patient-centred focus of the current reform processes.’

‘The Patient Experience Survey must continue to help design and build a 21st century health system in Australia that is sustainable and delivers the quality of care that Australians expect and deserve’, Ms Verhoeven said.

For more information on the AHHA, visit For more information on the CHF, visit

Media contacts:

Leanne Wells, CEO Consumers Health Forum of Australia 0409 818 290

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association 0403 282 501