Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ALP health policy for the election

aThe ALP has released its health policy. We have had an opportunity to consider the policy and have come up with the following thoughts:

The ALP Health Policy seems to provide an integrated and comprehensive plan for the development and delivery of health care for 2012, touching most bases and linking existing and recent expenditure and policies.

The standout issues are:
  • $250m expenditure on new and expanded heath services over next four years
  • Infrastructure of $150m per year, including:
  • additional hospital facilities and beds, community health centres, walk-in-centres, and e-health
  • staffing for new facilities including, Women’s and Children Hospital and Gungahlin Health Centre
  • $20m over next four years to support health workforce – expanded roles of allied health professionals, doctors, nurses and assistants
  • $10.3m over next four years to support people living with chronic disease
  • $11.3m over next four years to support a healthy future – health promotion, including $6m for children and $0.3m for adolescents and young person
  • $35.6m over four years for acute, rehabilitation and community based services for older citizens.

Surprisingly there is no mention of consumer role/input into ACT Health planning, management or evaluation of health services. Given that this government has involved consumers in the planning of health services I would have expected to see an explicit statement of commitment around this.

There is also no explicit reference to engaging consumers at the individual level to be more involved in decision making around their care.

The additional $2m to support the implementation of e-health and smart technology initiatives does not appear until 2012-13 – this seems a long delay. There is certainly a number of things that could happen in this area, especially around electronic discharge and electronic prescribing. We are puzzled by the delay.

We are interested in your thoughts.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

ACT Health Strategy for Chronic Conditions

The ACT Health Chronic Disease Strategy 2008 - 2011 is now available online as a Pdf (322kb).

This document sets the direction for chronic disease prevention, detection and management in the ACT for the next three years.

HCCA supported consumer representatives on the Steering Committee and also made submissions during the consultation phase.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Consumer Reps Training Completed for September 2008

Today we finished a very successful training course for consumer representatives. Canberra will be very well serviced by the recent graduates of our training. These people have a vast experience of the health system and will make very effective consumer representatives.

At the consumer representative training today we had the pleasure of listening to Russell McGowan share his story and insight into health following his hears of participation in the health consumer movement. Russell went through his very useful Roolz for Reps. These are tips on how to be effective consumer representatives.

We also discussed the national reform agenda. Members may be interested to read the recent Light on the Hill speech by the Federal Minister for Health, Ms Nicola Roxon, MP.

Well done to your new reps. I look forward to working with you to make our health services healthier!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Consumer Issues on the Agenda in the ACT

Thank you to the members who took the opportunity to listen to and ask questions of the candidates in the upcoming ACT Election. The event was well attended and a great success from our perspective.

Our election forum brought good news for consumers as all candidates supported a number of the issues HCCA has identified as critical.

All candidates spoke of the need to plan and prepare for our ageing health population. This starts in 2016 and peaks in 2032 when a quarter of our community will be over 65. There was support for the program of infrastructure renewal that is currently underway of Canberra hospital, refurbishment of existing community health centres and building a new facility in Gungahlin. HCCA is advocating for development of community based health services rather than locking up all resources in a hospital-centric system. We want a health system that enables timely access to services in the most appropriate setting, which is not always in hospitals.

All candidates support expanding roles of allied health professionals and nurses however candidates vary in their degree of understanding of what these roles are and how they will contribute to reshaping our health system. We are very keen to see development of roles. There are some concerns expressed by doctors groups around the safety of nurses taking on more primary care roles. We do not consider this to be a barrier as with any medical professional there needs to be checks and balances in place to assure the community the health professionals are competent and working within their defined scope of practice. This includes the recognition of the value of multidisciplinary teams; the new health workforce will not have room for people who are not team players.

The candidates were all supportive of e-health initiatives including electronic health records, electronic prescribing, digital imaging, and electronic discharge summaries.

Most questions were for the Minister and included:
  • Use of inert materials in new buildings and refurbishment
  • palliative care services at the hospice and community
  • Need for health interpreters to work across health and aged careto assist with translation
  • How to safeguard patient information in electronic health records
  • access to dental care and the role of dental hygienists
  • more information on the Cancer Centre of excellence
  • continuity of care for all maternity services, rather than just the Community Midwifery Program.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ACT Election Health Forum

We are holding a ACT Election Forum for the Canberra Community on health issues on Wednesday 24 September 2008.

There will be an opportunity to have members of the Assembly and candidates answer your questions about our health system.

We encourage you send us your questions in advance so we can ensure these issues are raised in the forum.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Joint Letter to Primary Health Care Limited

Last week Russell McGowan signed a joint letter to Dr Bateman, on behalf of Health Care Consumers' Association.

The letter acknowledges the contribution Primary Health Care Limited makes to the provision of services to the Canberra community. The letter also expresses our concern at the impact the closure will have on consumers and asks that the company considers making the facility open to other organisations who may be in a position to make use of the site to provide primary health care to the community.

The will be available to read on our website very soon.

We appreciate your comments. Many of you have provided comments and our response has been strengthened by the voices of many consumers on this issue. Thank you for your support.