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Plans for improving access to quality health care for all Aussies

20 December, 2007

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has launched its Election Manifesto 2007 and First 100 Day Plan, which outlines practical strategies to improve access to quality health care for all Australians.

"Australians want and deserve a health system that provides them with the best possible health care in the most appropriate setting. However despite the many dedicated and highly skilled professionals working in the health system, far too many people are missing out on the care they need to help them maximise their well being and quality of life," Prue Power, Executive Director said.

"This is due to several underlying factors including a lack of funding and poor integration and coordination between different areas of the health system. In fact, instead of a health "system" we have a poorly coordinated collection of services, characterised by duplication and fragmentation. This has resulted in compromised continuity, efficiency and quality of care.

"Addressing these problems will require making some major changes to the ways in which health care is funded and delivered, including reforming our current system of hospital funding grants to the States and Territories.
This should occur in the context of the renegotiation of the Australian Health Care Agreements (AHCAs), which are due to commence mid 2008.

"The next AHCAs need to break down the current silos in funding between sectors of the health system and place prevention squarely at the centre of health care delivery.

Unless these changes are made, our health system will struggle to continue to meet the community's demands for high quality care.

"The post-election period will be vital in progressing the negotiations for the ACHAs and AHHA calls on both major parties to commit to commencing discussions with stakeholders immediately after the election.

"We have also proposed a number of clear, practical and evidence-based strategies for improving quality and access in the health system and a First 100 Day Plan which outlines the steps which should be taken immediately after the election to progress these strategies. AHHA will be assessing the incoming government on its performance against this plan after its first 100 days in office.

"AHHA believes that Australians are entitled to expect world class health care from our public health system. We are a wealthy country which can afford to invest in high quality health care in order to increase the quality of our lives and improve our well-being and productivity.

There is good evidence that this would be supported by the community, in preference to tax cuts.

"This election provides an opportunity for political parties to address the challenges facing our health system by committing to evidenced-based strategies to increase quality and access and to working with stakeholders to reform our health funding system to establish a strong foundation for the future," Power said.

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