AHHA claims health issues ignored in stimulus package
By ignoring the health sector in the recent stimulus package the Federal Government has missed the opportunity to support one of the most important areas of the Australian economy, according to the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).
"Health and community services contribute to the overall strength of our economy in a number of ways and should have been a key focus of this stimulus package," said Prue Power, Executive Director, AHHA.
"Firstly, health is one of the biggest components of the services sector, the largest section of the Australian economy. Health care is a growth industry which has the potential to further expand with support from the Federal Government.
"Secondly, the health sector is one of our nation's largest employers with over 10 per cent of workers being employed in the area of health and community services. With widespread workforce shortages, there is considerable scope to train and employ health care workers throughout the sector thus creating new jobs and meeting existing needs for health care.
"Thirdly, the productivity of our workforce depends upon high quality and accessible health care services. When people lack adequate access to health care it can reduce their capacity to work, affecting both them and their families and compromising the overall efficiency of our economy.
"There is clear evidence that our health system currently does not perform well in areas such as the diagnosis and management of chronic disease and the provision of preventive dental care. This leads to the development of more serious conditions which can prevent people from seeking or continuing in employment.
"AHHA urges the Federal Government to expand the suite of initiatives contained in today's stimulus package to include an injection of funds into the health sector, in particular focussing on the critical areas of infrastructure and workforce.
"This would enable health services to upgrade their infrastructure, train more health care workers and increase the provision of essential health care to the Australian population, providing flow-on benefits to the economy and resulting in a healthier and more productive workforce," Power said.