Turnbull reveals changes to health system

Edited by Nelly T.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull boasts that the ‘Healthier Medicare’ package will be one of the biggest health system reforms in 30 years. The health reforms will be put to leaders of the states and territories on Friday at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

The ‘Healthier Medicare’ package is a response from the government to the recommendations of the Health Care Advisory Group (HCAG) to oppose the spiralling costs of the chronic health issue.

“Patients with multiple chronic conditions will get a health care package tailored to their needs and that care will then be co-ordinated to help them easily navigate the complex system”, Mr. Turnbull said in a statement.

Up to one in five Australians now live with two or more chronic health conditions, Indigenous Australians suffering even higher figures with a third or more reporting long-term conditions. The most common of these conditions are diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental health, eye disease, respiratory conditions and arthritis.

Patients with these ailments usually require a range of services from GPs, specialists, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists and dieticians.

Trials will be held that will include tailored care packages which will be planned with the patients and their families, enhanced use of digital health measures to boost efficiency and new ‘health care homes’, supplied by selected GP practices, to manage all care.

An estimate of 65,000 patients and 200 medical practices will undergo an initial trial.

“If we don’t act, Commonwealth health spending as a proportion of GDP will increase by over 50 per cent within 50 years because of higher rates of chronic disease”, Prime Minister Turnbull said.

Former Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton wrote in the HCAG report that the health system worked well for a majority of Australians, but did not entirely cater to the needs of around 7 million which suffered from one or more chronic medical conditions.

“Primary health care services in Australia for this patient cohort can be fragmented and often poorly linked with secondary care services, making it difficult for patients to be confidently engaged in their care,” he said.

Dr Hambleton commented on the fact that most patients with multiple chronic conditions received treatment from several health providers a majority employed in different locations and normally in diverse parts of the health system.

“That raised concerns about quality of care,” he said.