Apologies if I’m starting to sound like a one-track record here, but what on earth do Rudd and Roxon think they’re doing with their health reform consultation bandwagon?
Maybe I’ve missed something but I thought that one of the few areas that just about everyone with an interest in health reform agrees upon is the need to boost primary care. That’s the key to improving health outcomes, access and equity.
This was brought home to me at a recent meeting discussing how to inject a healthy dose of prevention into medical curricula. For just about every clinical problem we discussed, the location for prevention or early intervention was not in hospitals or in specialist practice. It was in the community, whether through primary health care or population-based interventions.
You can blame this rant on this release from the Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot, talking about her visit yesterday to Princess Alexandra and Prince Charles Hospitals in Brisbane “to hear from front-line health professionals about the ways the Rudd Government can address the challenges in Australia’s health system”.
It prompted me to study the consultation calendar on the Government’s health reform website.
Since July 28, various Ministers have attended 41 consultations. Five of these have been in community centres, three have been with professional groups and five have been with research institutes or universities.
TWENTY-EIGHT (more than two-thirds) have been in hospitals.
To be fair, I’m sure that the hospital-based consultations wouldn’t only have been attended by hospital staffers, and hopefully the organisers would have tried to ensure the discussion, at least, went beyond hospital grounds. Even so, you can guess what the overwhelming message might be from those working in hospitals: spend more money here.
You have to wonder what message the Government is trying to convey with this consultation process: that health equals hospitals; that what it really wants is to be seen to “fix” hospitals?