New stats reveal 50 per cent of Australians battling chronic disease

11 August, 2015

The need for Primary Health Care reform has been highlighted with the release of new statistics showing half of all Australians have at least one chronic disease.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said the new figures backed the Abbott Government's decision to set up a Primary Health Care Advisory Group, which is travelling the country over the next three weeks to discuss primary health care reform.

Ley said the Abbott Government was committed to reforming primary health care with the recent release of an options discussion paper 'Better outcomes for people living with Chronic and Complex Health Conditions through Primary Health Care'. Australians can comment on the discussion paper and supporting documents or fill out the consultation survey on the website.

"As our population ages, we know that the prevention and treatment of chronic disease is an increasing challenge for the health system and Australians generally," Ley said.

"The Abbott Government is committed to engaging with health professionals and patients to reform the way we treat people with chronic and complex conditions.

"It is concerning these stats show not only do half of all Australians have a chronic disease but one-in-five have at least two of the most common eight chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental health conditions."

Ley said the discussion paper considered possible reform options which would inform the government's development of a healthier Medicare to keep people out of hospital longer.

"We are committed to finding better ways to care for people with chronic and complex conditions and ensure they receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time," Ley said.

Ley said the Primary Health Care Advisory Group, led by former AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton, had developed the discussion paper and would hold public consultations across Australia over the next three weeks to finalise its recommendations to Government.

"I encourage all Australians including patients, health professionals and interested parties to look at the options included in the discussion paper and provide their feedback as we work hand-in-hand to deliver a primary health care system that better looks after Australians earlier."

Ley said the Primary Health Care Advisory Group would seek further feedback through public consultations in Sydney, Western Sydney and Dubbo before moving on to Melbourne, Geelong, Hobart, Brisbane, Cairns, Rockhampton, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Perth and Broome.

Following the public consultation, the Primary Health Care Advisory Group will develop specific recommendations for Government by the end of the year.