What does the election result mean for the community’s health?
Carol Bennett, Executive Director of the Consumers Health Forum, says there are many positives, and she also has some advice for the independents in their negotiations with the major parties.
Carol Bennett writes:
Unlike the doomsayers in the media predicting political chaos, those of us fighting for quality health reform can see many positives from the current uncertain political climate.
For a start, the three and possibly four independents, who will likely decide which of the major parties will wield power in Australia for the next term, all have a keen understanding of one vital area that should drive reform – community.
They have all been elected without the support of the vast ALP and Coalition political machines and they have only done this because they understand the needs of their local communities and they work hard to meet those needs.
It’s a safe bet that they also understand that there will only be effective health reform in their electorates when health consumers, whose lives are affected by poor services and an inadequate health workforce, have a say.
I have little doubt that health issues are close to the top of the long list of complaints that flow through their electoral offices every day.
Health consumers would expect them to demand:
- Effective consumer engagement in local health decision making processes.
- Better dental health services;
- Access to effective mental health services;
- Better coordinated primary health care;
- Use of a National Broadband Network to deliver Telehealth services;
- More spending on regional and rural hospitals;
- A resolution to the constant blame shifting over who runs and funds those hospitals.
- More spending and incentives to attract a qualified workforce;
- Increased focus and spending on preventative health measures;
- A serious reform package to tackle poor Indigenous health outcomes.
“May you live in interesting times” might be a known as curse in some cultures.
Hopefully the independents can make it a blessing for genuine health reform that will benefit all Australians.