Health system could have reduced hospital stays by 250,000

THE nation's health system is meeting just half the recommended care for people with several chronic diseases, as "ineffective management' of such ailments costs more than $320 million in avoidable hospital admissions.

A report released yesterday by the Grattan Institute showed the nation's health system was failing to properly manage chronic diseases - such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes - for many people.

It showed people with such chronic diseases were getting only "half the recommended care" they needed, and just 25% of almost one million people with Type 2 diabetes were receiving the necessary monitoring and treatment.

The report also showed 75% of Australians aged 65 or older had at least one chronic condition putting them "at risk of serious complications and premature death".

It found higher levels of chronic disease among disadvantaged Australians and those living in rural, regional and remote areas.

Report author Hal Swerissen said that each year, more than 250,000 hospital admissions were for health problems that "potentially could have been prevented".

"Yet each year the government spends at least $1billion on planning, co-ordinating and reviewing chronic disease management and encouraging good practice in primary care," he said.

Health Minister Sussan Ley is putting in place new primary health networks - local bodies to guide local decisions on primary health care - but the report calls for wider action.

Mr Swerissen said the system was geared towards a "fee for service for one-off visits" model, rather than doing "what we know works" - focusing on preventing diseases.

The report backed the move to primary health networks and called for more specific "clear targets", as well as financial incentives to manage chronic diseases in regional areas.


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