Monday night’s Four Corners expose on medical waste should have raised alarm bells for consumers and health professionals alike, says the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.
The experts interviewed in the Four Corners program made much of “vested interests” as barriers to reform, the CHF says.
However, it says there is no more vested an interest in the success of the health system than the Australian consumer, whose taxes and out-of-pocket costs are sustaining unnecessary treatments that achieve no better health outcomes for themselves.
“Consumers expect that the care they receive will result in an improved quality of life,” says Jo Root, acting CEO of the Consumers Health Forum.
“We know health professionals want to give their patients the best possible care.
“But when so much is being spent by the Government and consumers themselves on procedures that are not supported by evidence, we need to take a serious look as to how we fix that system.”
The MBS review will look at all items and assess their clinical effectiveness; it should identify the most unwarranted and evidence-lacking items to be stricken from the MBS, Root says.
“We welcome comments from the Minister that this will open up the opportunity to list new items so our health system continues to provide good quality care.
“Consumers are the ones who have to live with the consequences of an unwarranted procedure,” she says.
“They should be able to question their doctor about the necessity of proposed health interventions and be part of the decision on whether a test or procedure is right for them.
“The evidence to inform that decision needs to be clear and accessible.”
Root says the CHF is very pleased that several professional societies and medical colleges have lined up in support of the ongoing MBS review.
“This problem can be addressed but needs commitment and collaboration among the Government and senior stakeholders.
“We hope that the Four Corners program will be the catalyst for further action to give consumers confidence in the quality of the care they receive.”