COAG – positive talk that needs funding

While the COAG health funding arrangements are yet to be agreed by all parties, there is at least a consensus on the importance of a sustainable system that is efficient, focuses on patient-centred care, prevention and better performance driven by data and research, the Consumers Health Forum says.

“While that consensus is welcome, there is no obvious commitment to significant funding or an action plan to make it happen.“Australia’s health funding arrangements are dogged by the federal, state and territory split in health responsibilities but if all governments can work more effectively towards the aims of this agreement it would be a great step forward,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“We need to move on from a COAG agreement that focuses largely on hospital funding. We need a hospitals and health agreement that puts primary health care reform as keystone.  Coupled with investments in hospital funding, it is through this setting and collaborative regional implementation plans agreed between Primary Health and Local Hospital Networks that we will achieve sustainability, smoother transitions of care, avoidance of more costly hospital services and, most importantly, a better patient experience of the system”.

“Whether the Commonwealth offer is sufficient for some states and territories to agree on what they need to continue to run public hospitals that people have confidence in to deliver quality safe care, is yet to be resolved.

“We welcome the First Leaders’ commitment to a focus on prevention and better hospital avoidance through improved coordinated primary care and driving best practice, cost effective care.

“But while the words are heartening the question is where is the funding to make it possible? And where is the implementation plan?

“What the country really needs is a much more forward-looking health and hospitals agreement that sees the system better organised as ‘one system’, regionally delivered.

“We proposed to Health Minister, Greg Hunt, last year developments that built on Primary Health Networks and on his Health Care Homes trial to strengthen non-hospital services and integrated care to support patients better manage their own health.

“There are now significant and persuasive findings and support from the Productivity Commission and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association for changes that are evidence-based such as better coordinated measures to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions and to spur patient centred care.

“We need to see all governments acknowledge the vital need in the interests of consumers --- their voters --- to put aside differences and work together for a cohesive national health system,” Ms Wells said.ENDS


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Mark Metherell
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