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Consumers Health Forum looks at some of the important announcements for Health in the 2023-24 Budget.
Consumers broadly support the vision and principles of the draft strategy. They consider that many of the proposed actions could be effective in reducing stigma and discrimination. Some consumers pointed out that the Strategy could be applied more broadly than to mental health conditions, for example recognising that many people experience physical health co‑morbidities, and that there is often a two way causal relationship between mental and physical health conditions. They also pointed to the many physical conditions that draw stigma and discrimination, including obesity, lung cancer, and ME/CFS.
The Strategy should be widely accessible – not just to organisations and governments, but to consumers of the system – as intended. It is extremely important that the document is written in plain English and translated into community languages. Complementary material and a communications’ plan should also be developed and implemented so that the Strategy is accessible to all consumers.
Read the full submission
The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report was published by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler on 3 February. In the February 2022 edition of Consumers Shaping Health, we ....
- discuss initial impressions of the report and open registrations for a briefing for consumers
- share details three specific consumer activities CHF will be focused advocating for funding
- invite consumers to join a media spokesperson program
As the Commonwealth Government embarks on significant reforms to Australia’s complex health system, it has never been more crucial to work with the people who use and pay for our public health services. Research shows Australians care deeply about their health system and that their lived experience and ideas improve service planning and delivery, especially when change is occurring.
The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report highlighted the benefits of moving towards a consumer-driven health system and noted that the success of reforms will rely on engagement with consumers in the design and delivery of services.
As this important work begins, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) stands ready to provide consumer insights to ensure meaningful, cost-effective change is achieved. However, further investment in CHF is required to do this.
CHF is the national peak organisation for healthcare consumers. CHF’s vision is for Australia to have a world class health and social care system centred on consumers and communities. To achieve this, CHF wants to see consumers included in all governance structures within the health system and in policy making processes, including the government’s Measuring What Matters initiative.
CHF strongly supports the government’s intention to improve its measurement of Australians’ wellbeing and quality of life, and its plan to use those indicators for future budgets and assessment of progress.
CHF uses a broad definition of health and has advocated across many of the policy areas that affect social determinants of health, especially income and people’s ability to avoid or transition out of poverty
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport’s Inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections
Long COVID Inquiry
CHF has lodged a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport’s Inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections.
Consumers told CHF about their lived experiences and the services that they need to get better. They told us that many primary health practitioners do not know how to diagnose or treat long COVID. At the same time, patients can wait many months for referral, and then many more months for treatment, at long COVID clinics. Often, too, treatments are outdated and can exacerbate, rather than relieve, their symptoms.
The submission argues that an effective response to long COVID requires:
- reducing repeated infections in the community
- earlier treatment and multi-disciplinary care for patients, including mental health needs and other secondary effects, and supports related needs, such as housing, income, family violence
- expanding the reach of specialist clinics and other primary care options that provide consistent, evidence-based treatment
- conducting and supporting Australian based research into the condition, while using Australian and overseas research to educate health providers and update treatment guidelines
- improving government (all tiers) community support for people with long COVID and their carers
- increasing awareness of the condition, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse, and other disadvantaged communities, so that people who need it can get advice and treatment.