Consumers Health Forum has urged the Government to reform primary health care following the release of the Chronic failure in primary care Grattan report today.
“Our greatest health challenge in Australia – reducing chronic disease and treating it more effectively – is well within our capabilities and what it requires is smarter, better use of existing workforce, financial incentives and infrastructure rather than huge amounts of new spending,” says Consumers Health Forum CEO, Leanne Wells.
“The health debate has to shift away from its preoccupation with hospitals and hospitals financing to fundamental, lasting reforms that are in the long term interests of consumers, taxpayers and a sustainable, responsive, affordable health system – that means investment in a stronger, integrated primary health care system.
“We urge the Government to release the report of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group and to ensure that primary health care reform is front and centre of negotiations with Premiers and treasurers at their joint meeting in April.
“Primary health reforms should share top billing with hospital funding in the health measures in the May Federal Budget.”
Wells says that developments currently in train will, if implemented correctly, result in a “true breakthrough” in health care: the Primary Health Networks and the results of the Health Minister’s review of care for chronic and complex conditions, provide an ideal opportunity for change, she says.
“The report acknowledges that effective prevention and management of chronic disease in primary care is not easy. It requires sustained effort by people with chronic conditions working in partnership with a team of health professionals.”
While she says the role of GPs is vital, care must be planned rather than reactive and focus on the patient, rather than on health professionals.
“One of the greatest shortfalls is the failure of our system to provide coordinated care for people with complex needs because it is fragmented and difficult to navigate.
“We need to introduce Health Care Homes for people with complex and chronic conditions and families and children so they can receive holistic, coordinated care, wrap around support for multiple health and social care needs and enhanced access to team based care. The measures in the Grattan Report will help introduce such an improvement to our system.
“This is where Primary Health Networks can come into their own, by commissioning more effective regional management of primary care services.”