Thursday, July 16, 2009

CHF Members Forum


HCCA staff attended a CHF planning forum on 16 July 09 in Melbourne. Antonio Russo, Chair of CHF, opened the forum and outlined the purpose of the morning and then introduced the governing committee and CHF staff.

CHF is currently developing their Strategic Plan for 2009 - 2014 to be launched at their AGM. This forum was designed to draw ideas and priorities from the membership to inform the development of this Strategic Plan. Around 60 people from member organisations were in attendance.

The national health reform agenda will feature strongly in the development of the plan. CHF members expressed a desire for CHF to continue to provide a consumer voice in the reform agenda.
What follows is a summary of the session.

In recognition of the importance of the national reform agenda CHF invited the Hon Robert Knowles, Commissioner of the recently concluded National Health and Hospital Reform Commission (and Chair of Mental Health Council of Australia and former Victorian Minster for Health) to speak to the members about the work of the NHHRC.

The NHHRC was established by the Minister for Health (Nicola Roxon) in Feb 08 and has now completed their work and submitted final report to the Government. Their task was to take a helicopter view of health system to identify gaps and emerging trends and recommend changes to ensure the system could continue to meet the needs of the community and overcome the glaring inequities that are currently embedded. Their focus was very much on those who are dependent and need to access to the health system. IN their work they recognised that there is a need for formal consumer advocacy as well as the need to empower individual consumers to interact with the system and articulate their needs.


The tensions between tight timeframe and meaning participation were commented on. The Commission was established in February 08 and by April 08 they had prepared Beyond the Blame Game to feed into the Australian Health Care Agreements. This report outlined key principles to underpin a good health system and any changes that would be made. They then undertook a national tour of consultations with consumers and community people who use and depend on health system, staff at the front line and managers and policy people employed by government. They also commissioned reports from a range of experts. They submitted their interim report to reflect what they had heard from the community. In essence they found that Australia has a good comprehensive health system but there are gaps and inequalities in the system:

  • oral health: 40% of Australians cannot access basic preventative and restorative oral health services mostly because of costs
  • sub acute services are inadequate
  • there is not consistent provision of primary health care across Australian
  • provision of mental health services is patchy and in need of improvement
  • rural and remote have difficulty in accessing basic services
  • aboriginal health outcomes are appalling
The health system deals with people requiring acute episodes of care very well but does not necessarily deliver good care for those with complex and chronic conditions who require a continuum of care.
  • There are significant changes occurring such as increased demand of services and this holds considerable implications for workforce
  • tsunami of complex conditions and chronic have impact on health demands challenge for way services are structured and funded

The final report has been submitted to Government who are currently considering the report. It is anticipated that their final report will be made public after the Government has had the opportunity to consider their recommendations and prepare a broad response when it is released.
consistent with interim report

The next session was an opportunity for members to present their ideas on the direction and strategic priorities for CHF.

The issues raised by CHF members include:

  • the need for education in the bureaucracy about how to engage with consumers
  • need to define consumers and consumer representatives
  • how do we define and shape family centred care? and the need to define a child?
  • lack of education in the bureaucracy about how to engage with consumers
  • convene regular forums for state peak consumer organisations
  • patient centred health care - consumers need to be defining what this means and advocate for that,
  • build in discussion and action about what climate change means for health
  • shift towards consumer centred systems rather than a consumer representative on a committee
  • consumer participation at local, state and national levels
  • involvement of consumers in health and medical research

The forum was an excellent opportunity for HCCA to engage with other State based consumer organisations and staff connected with the Health Consumers Queensland, Health Consumer Alliance of South Australia, Health Consumer Council of Western Australia and the Health Issues Centre.

These organisations have recognised the need for us to further build our relationships and we will be looking for opportunities to discuss issues that we all face and learn from each other. This is an excellent way of building and sustaining the consumer movement.

1 comment:

Garpet said...

Engaging with consumers is apparently an art form. Let's hope that forums like this one can enhance the ability of advocates for the consumer to take the prize for excellence on each and every occasion that there is engagement with the health hierarchy.