Consumers and healthcare providers have come together to develop a ‘roadmap for reform’ of primary healthcare, the bedrock of better health outcomes and lower health costs.
The Consumers Health Forum of Australia and the Primary Health Network Cooperative of 31 PHNs, including SWSPHN, have produced Strengthening Medicare and investing in Primary Health Care: A Roadmap for Reform.
The report says major primary healthcare reforms are required over the next 10 years.
“The forum’s latest health consumer sentiment survey of over 5,000 people found that while the quality of healthcare services in Australia remains generally high, there are growing gaps in affordability and accessibility particularly among disadvantaged cohorts and people with chronic conditions,” the report said.
“Australians commonly experience a healthcare system that is fragmented, with inconsistent levels of access especially in the regions, and a lack of continuity in patient care.
“Year on year reductions in the number of doctors choosing general practice has led to drastic workforce shortages, coupled with existing access issues in fast growing outer urban areas,” the report said.
While the new Federal Government’s commitment to invest $250 million of additional funding per year over the next four years will go some way to addressing challenges in the system, the report said “looking beyond this critical down payment to strengthen and improve Medicare, there are a range of additional and essential measures required to sustain and strengthen general practice and primary care”.
The Roadmap for Reform aims to ensure Australians from all backgrounds and walks of life have the opportunity to access better primary healthcare, when and where they need it.
The reforms fall under six broad action areas:
- One system
- Equitable patient experience and outcomes
- Continuous quality improvement, safety and future focus
- Bolstering rural health
- Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
- Supporting our health workforce