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Consumers voice top 5 needs from Australian healthcare ecosystem

Health Industry Hub | December 14, 2022 |

More than anything else, health consumers want access to more bulk-billing GPs, according to a new survey by Australia’s peak health consumer body, Consumers Health Forum (CHF).

The survey asked CHF members, who include the nation’s leading health advocacy groups, what were the five top changes consumers want to see in health for 2023.

In addition to more bulk-billing GPs, health consumers want coordinated care from a team of health professionals, greater access to mental health services, more GPs in rural and remote areas tom improve equity of access to care, and wraparound health services for those who need it most.

The information was provided to the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce by CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny at their last meeting tomorrow.

“There is no surprise that health consumers want greater access to GPs and to better co-ordinated care,” Dr Deveny said. 

“Research by us and many other organisations have highlighted these issues for years, especially as bulk-billing rates decline, the population ages and the number of people with complex chronic conditions continues to grow.”

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) summit voiced mounting evidence that general practice is on the brink, with almost half of all GPs surveyed for the 2022 Health of the Nation report saying it is financially unsustainable for them to continue working as a GP.

Dr Deveny added “It is also a clear message that many consumers find the health system very hard to navigate, and that the various health services they interact with are very disconnected. The need for better health literacy and health navigation is vital, especially for the community’s most vulnerable.

“There have been so many inquiries and so much talk. Consumers are now looking for action and concrete reform initiatives from the government to address the issues of access and equity which have been ignored for over a decade.

“While some bodies will argue that increasing the Medicare rebate and improving doctors’ incomes will solve the problem, it is far from the total answer. 

“The health system needs reform at a systemic level and consumers need to be involved from the outset so they can influence policy and make their voices heard,” Dr Deveny said.

CHF is the only consumer body represented on the Taskforce, which is chaired by Minister for Health and Ageing Mark Butler, and is due to report its recommendations by Christmas.

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