Page 2033 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 7 June 2017

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The Greens took a preventative health plan to the election which would improve the health of our community and take pressure off the acute health system. We acknowledge that our hospitals need to be supported to meet the needs of our growing city and we recognise the investment the government is continuing to make in acute health services and facilities in this year’s budget.

But this investment cannot be at the expense of a longer term commitment to prevention and primary health care. We cannot simply do one or the other. It needs to be both and we need to make sure that we adequately resource each of those streams. And that is why I am pleased to also see the delivery of a number of items from the parliamentary agreement in the 2017-18 budget.

In particular, I note the investment in nurse-led walk-in centres in Gungahlin, Weston Creek and the inner north, which will provide high quality care with reduced waiting times for people with minor illnesses and injuries. These sorts of initiatives are the way we need to think about health care in the 21st century, responding to increasing rates of chronic conditions and their associated complex management needs.

It is simply not an efficient or effective use of resources for those cases that could be managed safely and effectively in the community to be directed to our emergency departments and into our hospitals. Initiatives like the walk-in centres utilise the skills and capabilities of our professional nurses in order to make the best use of health resources and get the best outcomes for health consumers. It is much better for somebody to be able to whip into a nurse-led walk-in centre, receive a free visit and have a shorter waiting time and also free up the emergency department for those who genuinely need that urgent treatment that an emergency department is designed for.

The Greens are also supportive of the expansion of the hospital in the home program which will support people to transition out of hospital more quickly and will allow them to recover or manage their condition in the comfort and familiarity of their home environment. The management of patients in their homes has been shown to reduce the likelihood of contracting infections, particularly dangerous resistant infections which can be found in hospital environments. Returning home can also improve and quicken recovery for some people due to the obvious psychological and emotional benefits it provides. This is an important initiative that will help keep people out of hospital or avoid re-entry into the hospital system following treatment. These are initiatives that recognise that the health profile of our population is changing and our health system needs to adapt to meet the evolving needs of the Canberra community.

Today, one in five Australians is living with multiple chronic conditions and the fee-for-service model, on which many of our primary and acute services are based, falls short in providing appropriate care for those people. Chronic illnesses are complex, and effective management needs long-term treatment and monitoring of symptoms by a range of health professionals working together in a coordinated way.

While a fully coordinated primary care system will need to be developed through national reforms, the Greens are pleased to see the government’s increased investment

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