Thursday, August 27, 2015

Launch of Capital Health Network


Yesterday I spoke at the launch of the Capital Health Network. The entity was officially launched by Simon Corbell MLA, Minister for Health and Deputy Chief Minister.

The Chair of the Network, Dr Martin Liedvogal, shared the Blue Print with attendees. This document sets out the roadmap for the Network.

My speech is posted here for people to read. As usual, I strayed from the script a little bit...


Health Care Consumers Association is very pleased to work with the Capital Health Network. We are the peak consumer organisation in the ACT and represent the interests of consumers in our very complicated health system.

Consumers and carers need to have a strong voice not only at the Board level but across the operational areas of the Network. We supported a small group of experienced consumer representatives and advocates to provide important perspectives in the development of the blueprint for the Capital Health Network. We worked closely with the staff to develop the foundation documents.

We need to build our understanding of the needs of the community so that services can be developed and supported to meet those needs. The population health planning function of the Network presents us with an opportunity to refine our health system to keep our community as well as possible.

Primary healthcare is essential to a healthy community. There is a new round of reform being led by the Federal Government and this is driven by the desire to control costs in the health system.  But we need to remember that it should not only be about reducing costs in the short term but how we can improve the health of our communities in the long term. The focus of the reform has to be on spending health dollars on what works the best.

There is also reform in workforce. We are at an interesting point where there are many players stepping into the primary care space. General practice-based primary health care is still key but we are seeing the potential for more services delivered by other health practitioners like health coaches, peer workers in mental health and – dare I say it - pharmacists. And we know that private health insurers in this country are also very interested in how they can offer products to support consumers in primary care.

We are also seeing an increased focus on self care and self-management by people with chronic conditions. Health literacy is the key.

Affordability of healthcare is one of the biggest issues for consumers. Out of pocket costs of primary health care are significant. The MBS rebate has not kept pace with the increasing costs and so many consumers face very real decisions about what services to access or which prescription to fill. Cost to see GPs, medical imaging, pathology, prescription and over the counter medications, physiotherapists, and then there's the cost for dental care.

We need to make primary health care more affordable so people can access the care that will benefit us. The stronger our primary health care the less demand for acute services.

There is much work to do but the Capital Health Network does not have to do this alone. There are roles for the ACT Government, the professional bodies, community services, consumer organisations and of course the Network’s membership.

So in closing I would like to congratulate the staff and Board of the Capital Health Network. I would also like to acknowledge the work of the former CEO Leanne Wells, former Board Chair Rashmi Sharma, and also the role that Vlad Alexandric and Angelene True have played in the transition.

Community based solutions can only be developed in partnership. Clearly the Capital Health Network understands this and we look forward to continuing to work with them to meet the challenges the primary health care system faces and improve the health of our communities.

Darlene Cox
Executive Director

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