Report highlights failure in primary health care

The Grattan Institute, a public policy ‘think tank’, has just published a report entitled ‘Chronic failure in primary care’ (see here). It is disappointing there is little reference to nurses in the report but that aside, it does give a good insight into the problems (and some possible solutions) in Australian primary health care.

Some highlights of the report are as follows:

  • Ineffective management of heart disease, asthma, diabetes and other chronic diseases costs the Australian health system more than $320 million a year in avoidable hospital admissions.
  • Only a quarter of the nearly one million Australians diagnosed with type 2 diabetes get the monitoring and treatment recommended for their condition.
  • Each year there are more than a quarter of a million admissions to hospital for health problems that potentially could have been prevented. Yet each year the government spends at least $1 billion on planning, coordinating and reviewing chronic disease management and encouraging good practice in primary care.
  • Three quarters of Australians over the age of 65 have at least one chronic condition that puts them at risk of serious complications and premature death. Social, economic and environmental changes are the best way to prevent these diseases, but there are much better outcomes where good quality primary care services are in place.
  • The focus must move away from GP fee-for-service payments for one-off visits; a broader payment for integrated treatment would help to focus care on patients and long-term outcomes.
  • PHNs should be given more responsibility for local primary care services. The evidence shows that a consistent, coordinated approach to specific diseases helps primary care more effectively prevent and manage chronic conditions. In regional areas, clear targets and well-designed incentives for disease prevention are vital.
  • There needs to be a focus on more flexible services, which might include greater use of nurses and allied health staff for assessment, planning, coordination, review and support of people with chronic disease.
  • Practice and incentive payments are not working.

Do you agree there are fundamental problems with our primary health care system? Are there any easy, or even achievable, solutions? We would love to know what you think.

One thought on “Report highlights failure in primary health care

  1. Did no one leave a comment to this so important report. Come on nurses wake up! There is opportunity here if we are bold enough to make our move. What about nurses having a case load of patients with chronic diseases and being able to manage them under protocols e.g. we get to refer to podiatrists, dentists get the HbA1c ordered when due etc. But if we are all to apathetic then either we are all fed up of banging our heads against a wall and seeing no change for patients or change to our status as the GP’s handmaiden and the funds that were supposed to be used to support nurses being grabbed by the practice principals or corporates or APNA perhaps this forum just does not work and you need to try a different format to get nurses to respond. Sorry that is a really long sentence with no grammar but you get my drift.
    Tracy
    Report

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