Health funding boost welcome but more needed for primary care

The Consumers Health Forum welcomes Labor’s pledge to increase spending on public hospitals and to boost funding for stretched elective surgery in public hospitals.

“We support the moves this week by both side of politics to boost health spending,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“The battle lines in health policy have now been drawn for the next election largely around hospital funding. What is needed in addition is a wider health agenda: we are looking for both sides to step up and expand primary care and transitional care services outside hospitals.

“The Federal Budget announced record hospital funding and Labor is promising to top that. With significant levels of extra funding available whoever wins the election, we urge our political leaders to rethink health spending goals and add a significant investment in primary care reform into the mix.

“We would like to see both the Coalition and Labor devote more funding and priority to primary care that, if delivered effectively, would reduce demand for more expensive hospital care.

“We know that people value accessible general practice and other primary care services and that health systems with strong primary health care arrangements perform more efficiently and effectively.

“We also know from our Out of Pocket Pain survey on costs facing patients that there is a need for more support for elective surgery to be available at public hospitals to ensure all Australians can get the quality care they need regardless of income.

“Importantly this also demonstrates the need for better resourced and integrated health care in the community by GP-led teams to ensure those patients, particularly with chronic illness, get wrap around care from doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other allied health practitioners. Importantly, we need to bring coordinated access to social care services into the mix as these often make a difference to how well people can follow through on a plan of care.

“The focus on primary care development in Australia has been faltering, though there is universal acceptance that it is the best answer for many health challenges of modern times.

“We were disappointed that more attention was not given to recommendations geared around shifting pharmacy from a dispensing and retail paradigm to one focused more of the role ofthe pharmacist and pharmacy setting in primary care in the Government’s recent response to the Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation.

“The Consumer Health Forum is holding a special policy roundtable in August to discuss and develop consumer priorities in health care policy for the Federal election. Primary and integrated care will be the focus of the roundtable,” Ms Wells said.



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