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.

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