(2010), "Australia - Hospitals still under pressure", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 23 No. 8. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2010.06223hab.006Download as .RIS
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Australia - Hospitals still under pressure
Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 23, Issue 8
Keywords: Public hospital sector, Emergency healthcare, Quality health improvements, Healthcare access
A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals the increased stress being placed on public hospitals by the rising demand for emergency care and the need for long-term planning for the public hospital sector, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) said.
The AHHA is the peak national body representing public hospitals, area health services, community health centres and public aged care providers.
“The good news in the report, Australian hospital statistics 2008-2009, is that hospitals have been able to provide more elective surgery and so reduce waiting times for treatment. One reason for this increased capacity is the additional funding from the Federal Government targeting elective surgery.
“However, the report also reveals that hospital emergency departments (EDs) continue to face an annual increase in demand of 4.6 percent. This is placing an unsustainable stress on our public hospitals, which provide almost all emergency health care.
“A significant proportion of people presenting to EDs do not require emergency treatment but end up at a public hospital because they cannot access more appropriate forms of care in the community. This is not the best solution for consumers and is a poor use of our health care resources. The ED should be the final thought when someone needs to access health care, except in true emergency situations.
“The report also demonstrates that overall 8.5 percent of all hospital admissions are potentially preventable, if timely and effective non-hospital care had been provided. This reflects a lack of focus on prevention and chronic disease management in primary care which hopefully will be addressed through the COAG reform process.
“Ensuring our public hospital system is equipped to meet current and future demands for care will require a number of short, medium and long-term strategies. One model will never work for all situations and we need well evaluated flexible models of care for the future.
“In the short term we need to address current capacity blocks, equipment deficiencies and ensure hospitals are not continually operating at 100 percent capacity, to allow for necessary improvements to be made. In the medium term, we need to analyze and systematically implement practices that we know will work, such as information/communications technologies, hospital-in-the-home (HITH) programs and chronic disease management.
“Over the long term we need to make structural system and funding changes, build appropriate infrastructure and implement and assess new innovations. We also need to focus more on health promotion and disease prevention in order to reduce the demand for acute care in the future.
“This requires an ongoing commitment from governments and input from all stakeholders, including consumers. We need to start planning now if we want the Australians of tomorrow to enjoy the same high level of care from their public hospitals as do the Australians of today”, Ms Power said.
For more information: www.aushealthcare.com.au