Saturday, November 12, 2011

HCCA President's Speech at the AGM

I am proud to be presenting my third report as President of the Health Care Consumers’ Association and I can report that this year of my presidency has been as just as productive as the first two.

The Annual Report includes my full report but today I want to share with you just a few highlights.

Over the past year, our work at the local level has been influenced by health reform at the federal level, including the development of the Local Area Health Network and the Medicare Local.  In addition, we have become more involved in research partnerships, such as the project examining consumer perceptions of nurse practitioners in primary health care, for which we received a grant from the Department of Health and Ageing.  I am particularly pleased with our move to increasing consumer involvement in research and we will continue to work with our University Partners over the coming years.

Integral to the important work of HCCA are the committed and hardworking consumer representatives, who tirelessly devote their time and energy to providing consumer input on a range of significant health matters.

This year, HCCA has

  • supported 43 consumer representatives,
  • managed 31 new appointments on ACT Health committees and
  • has consumer representation on about 109 health committees across the Territory, including ACT Health, Calvary Health Care ACT, community organisations and also at the national level. 
  • In addition to committee representation, we trained 30 new consumer representatives in the last financial year.

We continue to experience high numbers of requests for consumer representation from the Health Directorate.  We know our colleagues at the Mental Health Consumers  Network are experiencing a similar situation.  We welcome this acknowledgment of the value of consumers at the table.  This will continue to grow with the implementation of the national health services standards, in which partnering with consumers is a core standard.

A sign of our increasing role as the peak consumer organisation in the ACT has been the increase over the last year in the number of our organisational members.  These are listed in the Annual Report.  Working together with other community, health and consumer organisations is an increasingly important part of our work at HCCA.

Consumer representation in the Capital Asset Development Program has also grown over the last year.  This is an important and exciting area of work for consumer organisations to be involved in.  I have been working on the development of a new model of patient centred care for the community health service.  It has been a challenging yet rewarding experience.  We will see the fruits of this Community Health Centre development in the coming year with the opening of the new Gungahlin Community Health Centre in 2012.

This year HCCA Consumer Representatives have attended a myriad of events, including the regular E-Health Consumer Reference, consumer reps forums  and Health Issues Group meetings.  We have convened meetings on topics such as Respecting Patient Choices, Advanced Care Directives,  Primary Health Care Strategy and Patient Centred Care.

We are working hard to ensure that consumer participation is not limited to consumer representation on committees.  We are working with ACT Health staff to convene round tables and consultative fora on health service plans, medication safety, workforce  development, dental health, e-health and the development and implementation of the national health reform agenda.

From a financial perspective, I am pleased to report that HCCA continues to operate within a sound financial base.  I will leave Russell McGowan to provide more detail when he presents the financial report on behalf of our Treasurer, Bev McConnell who is unable to join us today.

Pivotal to the effectiveness and success of our organisation are the people within it – our members, our consumer representatives, our staff and my Executive Committee colleagues. Our members put in many hours of thought and preparation for meetings as well as participating in HCCA calendar of events and activities.

Firstly, I would like to thank all our consumer representatives and those members who participate in the workshops and fora we hold. Our membership is our strength and our effectiveness in advocating for improved health services can be attributed to your involvement.  The Consumer Representatives Program is truly the cornerstone of HCCA and I am proud to note that this program goes from strength to strength as evidenced by the commitment and dedication of our representatives.

I also want to thank my fellow Executive Committee Members for their support and hard work over the past 12 months.  I would especially like to extend my very best wishes to Marion Reilly; and I’m so pleased that she is able to join us today.

Finally, my sincere thanks go to the staff of HCCA and particularly, our Executive Director, Darlene Cox.  HCCA has been particularly fortunate in obtaining talented and committed staff that play a vital role in achieving the objectives of our organisation.  My thanks to Darlene and all of our staff for the great job you have done over the last year.

I end my report with a tribute to Val Lee, who passed away in January.  Val was a dedicated and experienced consumer representative who worked tirelessly to improve the health system, throughout her long battle with cancer. Val continued to attend her full day of meetings for the Canberra Integrated Cancer Centre User Groups until just days before she passed away.

I’m pleased to have been able to share this with so many or you.  Thank you for coming today and I look forward to another productive year.

Adele Stevens
President.

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