Australia is recognised as having one of the best health care systems in the world. However, as a 2016 Grattan Institute report highlighted, our system is failing in one critical area: the prevention and management of chronic disease. The same report estimated the cost of potentially preventable hospital admissions from chronic disease at $322 million per year. Given these factors, OTA holds the view that substantial investment in preventive health care services is imperative not only to the wellbeing of individuals and communities, but to a sustainable health care system. The contribution that OTs can make to chronic disease prevention and management is substantial, and as the needs of our population change the demand for the services of OTs is likely to increase.
On 1 July 2015, a network of 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) was established across Australia by the federal government, with a view to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients and improving coordination of care. OTA welcomed the PHN initiative, and continues to remind government that occupational therapists, with their expertise in functional assessment and helping people to achieve practical goals, must be an integral part of primary care teams. OTA is working to ensure that other health professionals who are at the forefront of healthcare, such as General Practitioners, understand the role of OTs and how OTs can assist their clients.
OTA is acutely aware of the disparity between health outcomes and life expectancy for Australians living in regional and remote parts of the country and those of people in our cities.
- OTA continues to advocate across all forums for a properly resourced commitment by governments at all levels to preventative care and the principle of wellness.
- In the case of those with chronic disease, OTA advocates that it is imperative this be managed in a more effective, evidence-based way.
- OTA is working to ensure that General Practitioners and other health professionals understand the role of OTs and how OTs can assist their clients.
- OTA continues to advocate for equity of access to health care services regardless of an individual’s geographic location.
OTA advocacy often takes the form of written submissions and correspondence. OTA also engages in collaboration with other relevant peak bodies to support advocacy and lobbying work around a particular issue. For instance, OTA has recently contributed to the AHPA (Allied Health Practitioners Association) submission to the review of MBS allied health items.
OTA engaged in the RACGP, CHF and NHMRC Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability Social Prescribing Roundtable on 25 November. CHF are to provide a report with recommendations from the Roundtable to all participants, and OTA will have the opportunity to comment on the recommendations.
How You Can Help
Educate your peers—engage in the conversation about preventative health care, chronic disease prevention and management, and/or rural and regional health issues.
OTA welcomes feedback about your experiences working in primary health care, and your ideas as to how health care services can be improved. OTA takes this feedback to government and key stakeholders to advocate for better outcomes for OTs, and their clients.
To provide your feedback on this important issue, please contact OTA.