The report provides an overarching direction, and it is now time to hit ‘accelerate’ on bringing all stakeholders to the table, to develop the detail and implement reforms.
GPs are the specialist experts in primary medical care, and emergency doctors acknowledge their leadership on these issues. Well-functioning primary healthcare services that are accessible, affordable and well-integrated into the rest of the healthcare system are crucial to ensuring all Australians have access to the care they need when and where they need it, regardless of where they live.
ACEM commends the Australian government, and all involved in the development of the report, for progressing this complex and challenging work to better support access to primary healthcare.
The College emphasises the importance of ensuring any implementation contributes to improved linkages between primary healthcare and emergency departments, as well as broader improvements across the hospital and healthcare system. The recognition of the need for strategies to improve collaboration and build links between healthcare sectors and services to be more patient-centred are welcome.
The College is also hopeful proposed improvements to My Health Record will contribute to better data sharing between primary care, emergency departments and hospitals, and result in better, more streamlined experiences for patients and clinicians.
Progressing reform is a massive undertaking, and the proof of success or otherwise of the Strengthening Medicare exercise will become evident as recommendations and measures are developed and rolled out.
ACEM emphasises the vital importance of maintaining focus on the healthcare system as a whole, and ensuring emergency physicians and other emergency department clinicians – who serve a critical role at the intersection between primary care and hospital-based services – are at the table, with their views heard and reflected as this work progresses.
“Australia’s healthcare system has been under sustained and mounting pressure for many years, and is now at breaking point,” said ACEM President, Dr Clare Skinner.
“The entire health system is long overdue for reform, and we are hopeful that the broad principles and recommendations outlined in this report will lead to the reimagining that is so desperately needed to improve health outcomes for all Australians.
“We need to see courage from all governments and decision makers to tackle longstanding issues and deliver the healthcare system that communities need and deserve. ACEM is ready and eager to work collaboratively with all governments, our colleagues across healthcare, patients, carers and communities to achieve the necessary reforms.”
ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards.