21 January 2021 Position Statements

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is a significant step in the recovery journey from this pandemic and many of the principles outlined in the previously released Ethical Issues Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic must be applied to this process. With the release of Australia's COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy on 7 January 2021, details of how the rollout will occur are starting to emerge. This position statement outlines the key considerations from a consumer perspective that need to be incorporated into the planning processes for vaccine distribution. CHF has consulted interested parties from our member organisations and special interest groups in developing this statement.

CHF calls for the Australian government, working collaboratively with state and territory governments, to provide timely access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for all Australian residents at no cost to the consumer. Noting that evidence about different vaccines is continuing to emerge, the Australian Government should continue to proactively assess and source new COVID-19 vaccines as and when appropriate to best protect the Australian community from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full position statement can be accessed below.

19 January 2021 Submission

CHF supports the intent and the development of the NSQPH Standards to protect the public from harm and improve the quality of care delivered across a broad range of primary health care settings. The Standards are also an important way to provide transparency for consumers and service providers about the expected standards of safety and quality that should be met and the ongoing requirement for continuous quality improvement.

Primary health care covers a wide range of services, including general practice, dentistry, nursing, midwifery, optometry, pharmacology, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology and more. We know that health systems with a strong primary health care focus are more efficient, have lower rates of hospitalisation, fewer health inequalities and better health outcomes. Effective, integrated and comprehensive primary health care which is consumer-centred and takes a whole-of-person approach is critical to better meeting the needs of individuals, families and communities.

We also know that primary health care in Australia is facing a range of challenges, including the growing burden of chronic disease, an ageing population, adverse funding incentives to achieve volumes of services rather than better outcomes, workforce challenges, and digital innovation. We support the development of the NSQPH Standards to continue to strengthen Australia’s primary health care system, supporting services to cope with these challenges.

CHF's full submission can be accessed below.

9 December 2020 Annual Reports
Consumers Health Forum

CHF is committed to serving as advocates in the ongoing development and improvement of Australian health policy and practice. We strive to ensure that we constructively and comprehensively continue to bring consumer insights to national policy discussions and discourse. It became apparent that the consumer voice will be all the more important as we embark on a journey of health policy and service reform that adapts our system to respond to ‘COVID normal’. Read about our year in 2019-2020. 

7 December 2020 Consumers Shaping Health
Consumers Health Forum

Consumer report points to attitude sea change

The CHF Consumer Commission report, Making Health  Better Together not only presents a valuable guide on lessons of the COVID-19 experience, it also points to a deeper shift in thinking on health and social policy in Australia.. ...

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30 November 2020 Submission
CHF

The Australian Government is undertaking a significant program of reform to the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia. The reforms will continue to improve the safety, performance, and quality of medical devices in Australia and improve health outcomes for patients who require medical devices. As part of the Australian Government Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates therapeutic goods, and is responsible for implementing the Government’s reforms. The TGA conducted this consultation as part of the reform program. This consultation related to proposed enhancements to post-market adverse event reporting and improving communication with the consumers of medical devices.

The aim of a post-market monitoring and vigilance system for medical devices is to maintain the safety of patients and, through the collection, analysis, and action taken in response to adverse event reports, reduce the likelihood of adverse events recurring. Adverse event reporting allows the TGA to monitor medical device performance in the real world and identify emerging safety and performance issues. A number of reviews and inquiries have highlighted the safety of medical devices and the process for monitoring them once supplied on the market. While Australian regulatory practices are comparable to other regulators around the world, this consultation seeks feedback on proposals to strengthen them further. Improving Australia’s adverse event reporting system will more promptly address threats to patient safety and to take quicker action.

The focus of this consultation was to seek feedback on five proposals. The proposals aim to improve access to information about medical device safety. In addition to making it easier to report problems with a medical device, information about known or suspected problems with devices must be accessible and be understood by consumers, their families and their health professionals.

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) is the national peak body representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers and those with an interest in health consumer affairs, including health-based research. We have over 250 members reflecting a broad spectrum of organisations including state-based consumer peaks, condition-specific groups, volunteer patient groups, professional associations, Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and the research community.

We work in collaboration with our members, national partners and research collaborators to influence policy, programs and services to ensure they are in the consumer and community interest. CHF is pleased to make this submission in response to this TGA Consultation on enhancing medical device adverse event reporting.

Note that this consultation was administered as an online survey and this document has been adapted from the CHF submission to that survey.

27 November 2020 Submission
CHF

The Australian Government is undertaking a significant program of reform to the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia. The reforms will continue to improve the safety, performance, and quality of medical devices in Australia and improve health outcomes for patients who require medical devices. As part of the Australian Government Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates therapeutic goods, and is responsible for implementing the Government’s reforms. The TGA conducted this consultation as part of the reform program.

This is the second TGA consultation published relating to the proposed Australian implementation of a Unique Device Identification (UDI) System for medical devices. It builds on the first consultation paper, Proposal to introduce a Unique Device Identification (UDI) system for medical devices in Australia, The potential implementation of a UDI System in Australia is a significant undertaking, involving a broad range of stakeholders, changes to business processes and IT systems, and with a significant level of complexity; particularly around the areas of labelling, provision of data, transition periods, and the management of legacy devices.

Whilst acknowledging the benefits of a globally aligned UDI System, there is the need to consider characteristics unique to the Australian environment. Some of those characteristics include potential linkages between the AusUDID and the ARTG, and the number of manufacturers who supply devices across Australia and other international markets, who may be required to be compliant with other jurisdictions’ regulations (the European Union (EU) and United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) requirements in particular).

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) is the national peak body representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers and those with an interest in health consumer affairs, including health-based research. We have over 250 members reflecting a broad spectrum of organisations including state-based consumer peaks, condition-specific groups, volunteer patient groups, professional associations, Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and the research community.

We work in collaboration with our members, national partners and research collaborators to influence policy, programs and services to ensure they are in the consumer and community interest. CHF is pleased to make this submission in response to this TGA Consultation on enhancing medical device adverse event reporting.

Note that this consultation was administered as an online survey and this document has been adapted from the CHF submission to that survey.

20 November 2020 Submission

On 6 October 2020, the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on Tobacco Harm Reduction. The committee will inquire into a range of tobacco reduction strategies and is due to report by 1 December 2020.

Prevention and cessation of smoking has been a remarkable public health achievement in Australia, which is attributed to the regulatory and population-based approach of the Tobacco Control Regulations and guidelines. Despite the progress that has been made, 11% of Australians still smoke daily, though this number is continuing to decline. There is a duty of care to regulate products that encourage smoking from being sold and advertised alongside everyday items as the addictive and dangerous nature of these products limits the ability of consumers to make an informed choice. We also need to continue to provide evidence-based smoking cessation programs and supports across the community.

CHF believes that there is a need for more research on various aspects of e-cigarettes, including their safety, efficacy as a harm reduction tool and potential to undermine smoking cessation efforts. We support a precautionary approach while there remains a lack of high-quality evidence on the long-term consequences of e-cigarette use.

CHF's full submission to the Committee can be accessed below, and further information about the Tobacco Harm Reduction inquiry is available on the Committee's website.

17 November 2020 Health Voices
Consumers Health Forum

The pandemic is bad but it has also brought some good news for consumers and the health system, forcing many of us to think afresh.

Read the November 2020 issue of Health Voices

16 November 2020 Position Statements
Climate and Health Alliance
13 November 2020 Submission

Preventive health is a key pillar of Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan. A 10-year National Preventive Health Strategy is being developed and will be completed by March 2021. In late August 2020 the Department of Health released a Consultation Paper which outlined the key themes from consultations held to date, as well as what the National Preventive Health Strategy aims to achieve and conceptually, how this might be done. The consultation was open from 28 August - 28 September 2020.

CHF believes there are a number of systemic shifts that are needed across government and society to prevent poor health outcomes, reduce health inequities and address the social, cultural, environmental and commercial determinants of health. The COVID-19 pandemic and emerging knowledge about the links between conditions such as obesity and coronavirus and its effects, are added impetus for a sound Strategy. The development of a 10 Year National Preventive Health Strategy is a significant opportunity to take a more holistic approach to address the underlying causes of poor health. CHF is seeking an ambitious, implementation focused National Preventive Health Strategy with explicit investment targets.

A copy of CHF's submission is provided below. The National Preventive Health Strategy Consultation Paper can be accessed here.

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