Hard line on health reform

Local health professional and health lobbyist Dr Sue Page is organising a forum to discuss the issue “Why Is Health Reform So Hard?”

The discussion will be lead by Professor Philip Davies, who currently works for the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health, but was previously the second most senior bureaucrat in the Commonwealth Department of Health.

In July last year the National Hospitals and Health Reform Commission put forward 123 recommendations on how to improve our health system amidst promises to fix public hospitals. In NSW, the Garling Report on acute care services in public hospitals concluded that the system had entered “a period of crisis”.

Dr Page said discussions about health reform and putting more resources into health had been going on since she was a babe.

“We keep saying it, but we’re not actually doing it,” she said. “I think we have to accept that you can’t put more into something without taking away from somewhere else... We keep talking about where we need to put more money into things, but we never talk about where we could put less money. We have to come up with services within the budget we’ve got... realistically, this is our ball park and we have to get it as right as possible to get the best bang for our buck.”

Dr Page’s view about why health reform is so hard is that “the people who have the best access to ministers and the media are the people who need to lose money. For example a professor at a cutting edge research facility in a big Sydney hospital, it would be very rare for them to say ‘we need to take a 10% cut across the department so we can put better facilities into country hospitals’.”

She said Professor Davies was likely to be “deliberately provocative” in his discussion and said the forum was open to everybody.

“We want as many people in the room as possible. The more people in the local area that have these types of discussions and thoughts, then we can get some good advocacy going,” she said.

The forum is being held at the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health, 61 Uralba St, Lismore, from 1pm next Wednesday, January 27.

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