Using the Budget to improve patient experience

Patient Experience Week coming two weeks before the Federal Budget provides a timely opportunity for voters to consider how the Government could best use precious health dollars to better the health experience for all Australians, the Consumers Health Forum says.

“CHF’s submission to the Federal Budget acknowledges that we know the Government faces a difficult task in meeting the demands for yet more health dollars,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said in a statement marking Patient Experience Week.

“But if patient experience and population health gains are put first there can be no more effective ways of lifting health and care outcomes for the community,” says the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells.

“The Consumers Health Forum along with a wide range of health organisations has called on the Government to institute a sugary drinks tax as part of a comprehensive campaign to fight the curse of obesity in Australia. 

“Revenue from that initiative could be used to finance a national obesity prevention strategy, including a consumer education campaign and curbs on promotion of unhealthy food and beverages particularly to children.

“Such measures need not place an overall drain on the taxpayer yet would deliver over time a great benefit in improved outcomes --- a truly positive patient experience for the population.

“However the best interests of health consumers can be overlooked when well-resourced health providers press their claims for more health dollars.

“We urge the Government to ensure that health spending puts the interests of patients and consumers first. This may require a strong and reasoned stance by Government to encourage changes in practice and business models.

“There is much Australia can do to improve our primary health care, that is services delivered in the community outside hospital. The current plans to implement Health Care Homes to ensure general practices have the capacity to provide the comprehensive services that many consumers need will require the lifting of the Medicare freeze on GP and allied health payments, if they are to have a real chance of success.  We need more resources and clearer Federal Government plans to stimulate better integrated care and more support for consumers including those with complex chronic illness.

“Private health insurance is another area where at minimal cost the interests of taxpayers and consumers could be better served. Policies that do not meet criteria of reasonable cover, simplicity and comparability should not be eligible for the rebate. We also ask that it is made mandatory that health funds make readily available, and in plain language, the costs and coverage of all their insurance packages.

“In pharmacy we call on the Federal Government to reform the PBS safety net so consumers with high usage of PBS medicines have smoothed-out annual co-payments. We ask the Federal Government to withdraw the proposed one-off increase in co-payments and increases in PBS safety net thresholds announced in the 2014 Federal Budget.

“And to boost patient safety and participation, we call on the Federal Government to support a programme of action to ensure healthcare consumers participate in shaping and implementing the health reform agenda. That should include development of a network of patient and consumer leaders who can work in partnership with Primary Health Networks, local clinicians and other stakeholders to stimulate services that meet local needs,” Ms Wells said.

CHF’s Federal Budget submission can be found here:


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