One of Australasia’s largest specialist medical colleges has today released its pre-budget submission for federal health spending.
Child health, end-of-life care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, obesity prevention and treatment, telehealth and drug and alcohol services are among the key areas where specialists believe funding is needed.
“Our pre-budget submission focuses on areas where we see opportunities to improve access to specialist care and improve health outcomes for patients,” said Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) President Dr Catherine Yelland.
“Preventing and treating obesity and related chronic disease, could greatly reduce the expanding burden placed on our hospital system, resulting in significant savings for the health sector and creating a healthier community.
“We encourage the Government to look at ways it can regulate advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, particularly to children and young people. Importantly, it must ensure fair and equitable access to bariatric surgery for public hospital patients.”
The submission calls on the Federal Government to allocate extra funding to address the huge disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes. It also encourages secure and long-term funding for the Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program, which aims to prevent, detect and manage chronic disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Funding should be reinstated for a research centre modelled on the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, to bring together evidence-based research on overcoming disadvantage for Indigenous Australians.
The submission also supports the Federal Government’s recent focus on improving mental health and reducing suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Dr Yelland said it is important that patients who are terminally ill receive high quality end-of-life care, and funding is needed for good palliative care services, particularly for non-cancer patients and rural and regional communities.
“The Government must commit secure, long-term funding to ensure terminally ill patients can access quality palliative care services in the community and these services must be effectively integrated with hospital services,” Dr Yelland said.
Increased investment in evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment services is also crucial.
“Alcohol-related harms come at an enormous social and economic cost to Australian society, with estimates putting the figure at well over $15 billion each year,” Dr Yelland said.
“We will be advocating for a greater investment in drug and alcohol services and better access to these services and ensuring we have a suitably trained multidisciplinary clinical workforce across Australia."
View the RACP’s pre-budget submission here.