Croakey is back after a break (as they say on the telly), and still trying to make sense of the state-of-play in health reform and the implications of the recent COAG meeting.
It seems that much of the media coverage focused on the political contest at COAG rather than what it might all mean for the population’s health.
And perhaps that’s fair enough, given the difficulties of translating broad political announcements into on-the-ground impact assessments. But perhaps there are real dangers to having health reform driven largely by political considerations (which in turn reflect the media’s focus on hospitals – aka the unhealthy cycle), rather than by the population’s needs.
Similar themes crop up in the latest edition of the Consumers Health Forum’s journal, Health Voices, which has a number of articles that are well worth a read.
In particular, Michael Janssen, Chief Executive Officer of Health Issues Centre, writes about two downsides to the health reform frenzy. First, he says that health consumers have suffered a step backwards because the health debate has shifted from whether health services are meeting community needs and expectations, to which government is going to pay what percentage of the healthcare budget.
As well, he says that the health reform debate has created an enormous distraction for senior health providers, policy-makers and services. “I could attend one or two workshops, seminars, or consultations a week on health reform if I was not careful,” he says.
“As CEO of a small, largely unfunded, consumer health organisation I’m happy to risk the charge of cynicism for being cautious about committing resources to the health reform debate, especially until the process looks less political and more about tangible consumer outcomes.”
The article by regular Croakey/Crikey contributor Jennifer Doggett is also well worth a read. She looks at what Australia could learn from health reform efforts elsewhere, including in Canada and New Zealand, and reminds us that we have already missed so many opportunities in the health reform process to create a fairer system that is more centred around the community’s needs and values.
Stay tuned (as they say on the telly) – more posts are coming soon from Croakey contributors on heath reform matters…