The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has called for stronger leadership and more coordinated reform efforts from the government when it comes to the country’s health system.

The AHHA called on the government to reverse the “massive” cuts to adult public dental services made over the past few years, and called for immediate action to fluoridate every community’s water supply to help prevent costly dental procedures in the future.

“Whoever is in government after the May 2019 federal election must provide strong and strategic leadership if we want a fair healthcare system for all Australians regardless of where they live or their ability to pay,” AHHA CEO Alison Verhoeven said in a statement.

A report published in the Medical Journal of Australia indicates the country’s healthcare system also needs to do more in order to prepare itself for events brought on by climate change.

The report noted climate change would increasingly impact people’s ability to access treatment or care — something Verhoeven’s statement touched on.

“For many people living in rural and remote Australia, gaining access to timely care, especially specialist care, can be difficult,” she said. “In some specialty areas, waiting times for care in the public system can be very long.”

A recent PwC Australia report highlighted the health workforce challenges the country faces from an increasing and ageing population, noting that by 2040, Australia will need an additional 120,000 nurses and over 400,000 aged care workers.

The report noted advances in these artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have the potential to improve both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the health system.

The paper also said collaboration would be required not only at the state and federal level, but also need to involve private health insurance sector and the private health providers to trial and implement new models of care.

AHHA and Australian health players have already mapped out how to transform the country’s healthcare system for the 21st century with a blueprint of short, medium and long term recommendations on how to progressively re-orientate the healthcare system to focus on patient outcomes and value.

The blueprint calls for an independent national health authority, distinct from state and territory health departments to tackle entrenched problems and support integrated care.

“Regardless of who forms government, all political parties should keep in mind a commitment to an effective, contemporary universal healthcare system is a commitment to a healthy Australia,” Verhoeven said.

 

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