Consumer advocate Diana Aspinall speaks on bridging gaps in healthcare

At the Consumers Health Forum we often find that the most effective advocates for improvement in the health system and in medical care are, not surprisingly, those who are high users of health services.

A great example of such an advocate is Diana Aspinall. She lives with multiple health conditions and as a consumer health advocate can point to her personal experience in highlighting important issues in our health system, whether it be gaps in care, cost or related issues like inadequate transport or communications.

You can watch her contribution at the conclusion of the video, Can we bridge the gaps in healthcare? produced by Sydney University’s Faculty of Health Science as part of the Dean’s Future Health Forum.

Diana chairs the Nepean Blue Mountains Joint Primary Health Network and Local Health District Community Advisory Committee and has played a pivotal role in organising a vigorous consumer health movement in the region.

So much of successful health care particularly for those with chronic and complex conditions has to do with bridging gaps so that patients receive integrated care and continuity of service from a range of practitioners.

As somebody with five chronic medical conditions, Diana sees the importance of bridges in care. She says that while doctors might talk to other doctors, they don’t necessarily talk to other allied health providers like podiatrists and physiotherapists about the individual needs of a patient. 

And while the doctor might refer a patient to an allied health provider there may be no explanation that because the allied treatment is not covered by Medicare the patient may face an out of pocket cost that they cannot afford: a gap in treatment that needs a bridge.

The goal of shared health records is also often frustrated by different records systems.  And while there is much talk of patient-centred care, that often does not happen because the time the doctor requires to do so is not covered by Medicare.

Diana’s contribution appears in a video introduced by international guru on the social determinants of health, Professor Sir Michael Marmot. He makes the point that in Australia it is often not lack of health care that leads us to get sick but rather the social conditions and inequities in power, education and wealth that result in differences in lifestyle, smoking, diet and exercise.

“We need to address the causes of the causes,” says Sir Michael.

And doing that by building healthier communities is powerfully communicated in the video by two other community health leaders, Teresa Anderson and Kylie Gwynne. 

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Diana Aspinall, champion of health consumers


About the author

Leanne Wells

Leanne Wells

Chief Executive of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia