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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 176 ..

We turn to our acute services for care in times of emergency or crisis and we must ensure that those services are available in those times of need. However, while these services are important, they are not the best or most efficient place to provide care for the majority of people. There is no doubt that Canberra’s health system faces challenges. The burdens on the health system and the resources needed to support it are increasing. It is simply unsustainable for us to try to meet all of this increasing demand by focusing solely on acute care.

When the Greens talk about the health system we are talking to a much bigger picture than just the hospital. The ACT Greens believe that fair, equitable and universal access to quality health services is a basic human right, and we believe an effective health system must be based on primary and preventative health care, including health promotion, disease prevention, and early intervention. The social and financial costs are so much greater if we do not provide care at the earliest possible moment.

Our community needs and deserves a high quality, free and professional health system that extends beyond the hospitals and encompasses every stage of life. The community needs access to health services that continue to take the pressure off our hospitals, focusing on preventative services and improving access for vulnerable groups and people. That is why the Greens are committed to reducing barriers to access to primary and preventative health services.

Wherever possible, we should create avenues for people to interact with our health services before they become unwell. This approach is the most efficient way to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. This approach requires us to consider the full scope of our health system, from home and community care services to nurse-led walk-in centres to outpatient clinics and health promotion activities. All of these pieces of the puzzle need to be considered as parts making up a whole, and the coordination between these services is essential to ensuring that the finite resources available are being used as effectively as possible.

The concept of health and wellbeing also extends beyond the health portfolio. Healthy living is a much broader concept and goes to issues of transport, education and the environment, to name just a few. The ACT Greens want a whole-of-government approach to achieve improved health outcomes for individuals and communities because we know that that is the only way we can ever truly responded to the social determinants of health and thereby reduce the ever-increasing pressure on acute services.

The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are, in turn, shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics: issues like housing, poverty, access to healthy foods and many other conditions. When we look at the health system in this way we can see how vital it is not only to fund hospital-based services but also to ensure that access to primary health care and community-based services is universal.

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