In the run-up to the election, the health sector sent the message loud and clear to the Coalition Government that its record on health was pretty sick.
The Government scraped in, acknowledging that it must rebuild trust on the issue of Medicare.
In the wake of the election, there has been no end of pointed advice for the Government on finding a way forward in health policy – see these five tips from Dr Lesley Russell at The Conversation, for example.
Having been reappointed to the health portfolio, one might have hoped for some signs that Minister Sussan Ley is ready and willing to acknowledge and listen to the community’s concerns, with a view to moving forward.
(tweeted Saturday, 23 July)
Reading the Minister’s statement, I was reminded of someone yelling loudly while jamming fingers in their ears – not a good look, given the weight of issues and concerns in need of some serious, sustained policy attention.
Last week, Alison Verhoeven, CEO of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, provided a useful public briefing for Minister Ley and colleagues while tweeting for @WePublicHealth.
Below is a summary of some of her key messages for Health Ministers and the wider Turnbull Government.
Tweets by Alison Verhoeven for @WePublicHealth
True reform in health sector cannot be siloed, nor a series of disconnected funding measures.
Health policy must be guided by evidence-based strategy; founded on productive, collaborative relationships.
[Have been] discussing health policy with public/private sector leaders. All agreed: multiple government reviews need to be joined up, strategic…must lead to integrated reform looking beyond siloed issues.
Whole-of-system reform necessary to ensure Australians with multiple care needs can access the services they require.
A return to bipartisan strategic policy in health is needed, as forged through COAG in the 2011 National Health Reform Agreement. Cooperation between Commonwealth, states needed to ensure stable long-term health, hospital funding; competitive federalism doesn’t work well.
Also agreed amongst health leaders: Govt can’t ignore voter concern re its support for Medicare and universal healthcare. Health is public good.
Preventive healthcare must be expanded and seen as an investment in the future. Australia spends less on public health than most OECD countries and our burden of chronic disease shows need to invest in preventive health.
Multi-partisan support for immunisation and tobacco action shows preventive care can improve the health of Australians.
Further discussion, action needed on impact of climate change on health – it’s set to be great challenge of future; will @TurnbullMalcolm act?
MBS reform must continue, but with a focus on improving universal access to quality care, not just on saving money.
Turnbull Government must press ahead with private health insurance reform to ensure better targeting of the PHI rebate, with savings put back into health.
Universal healthcare more than safety net for people identified by doctors as vulnerable.
Innovative models of care are necessary to improve workforce productivity, including reforming scope of practice and job design.
Payment models must prioritise primary health care & multidisciplinary community care to support chronic disease management.
Investment in primary care critical to ensuring sustainable health system: starting points-reverse Medicare freeze, speed up healthcare homes.
Primary Health Networks are well-positioned to connect diverse parts of the health system to ensure better patient care; must be sufficiently funded to do so.
PHNs have potential to be innovation hub for health reform, place-based care says @CHFofAustralia. But will need appropriate PHN investment.
Health Care Homes must be part of a fully-resourced chronic disease strategy; needs to be GP centred but leveraging broader workforce. All parts of health sector support healthcare homes strategy, so let’s invest more in this immediately says @Bupa CEO at #thenetworkeffect
Performance measurements that focus on health outcomes will help achieve the shared goals of primary, community and acute health sectors.
Robust health data collections must be implemented to aid moves toward patient-centred reform.
Public dental waiting lists must be tackled so patients receive timely care: oral health essential to overall good health. Government must ensure public dental scheme has sufficient funding to ensure equitable access to care. Care needed for adults and kids.
More details required on Government contract with Telstra Health to manage cancer registries: what arrangements for governance, access, reporting?
Hope health minister has opportunity to hear Boyer Lectures: address social determinants leads to sustainable health.
Savings idea for Commonwealth health budget: senior public servants could travel economy 1 HR flight Canberra-Sydney or Melbourne instead of business.
(Read the SMH article here).
At the very end of her statement, Minister Ley said:
I have already made clear the Government’s intentions to work collaboratively with the Opposition and the cross bench to build a better health system for all Australians.
The ball is now squarely in Labor’s court as to whether they can put patients before politics.”
It’d be a laugh-out loud moment, if these weren’t such serious matters.
Meanwhile, I’m sure many Croakey readers will be hoping for no more…