TASMANIA once had the best health system in the world, but those days are now long gone.
Many would argue that the best solution is to simply throw more money at the problem, but in reality, dealing with the delivery of quality health outcomes in Tasmania requires much more than this.
To make the Tasmanian health system great again we need leadership, hard work, innovative thinking and the co-operation of all parties.
At present, both the state and federal governments spend a huge amount of money each year on maintaining and attempting to improve the Tasmanian health system.
We are seeing significant investment in large-scale infrastructure redevelopment at both the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital.
For the community to gain the full benefits of these redevelopments, new funds will need to be found to support the day-to-day running costs and administrative requirements of the improved facilities.
However, if increased expenditure on health remains unchecked from these projects and others like it, it threatens to consume the state’s finances and decimate other important sectors such as education, infrastructure and the environment.
To this end, it is vital for the private and public health systems in Tasmania to work closely together for the benefit of the entire community.
Health funds and private hospitals go a long way to relieve some of the pressure on the public system, and those who can afford to be privately insured should be encouraged to make this decision.
The Australian Government Private Health Insurance rebate scheme has seen each dollar spent on the rebate provide a four to one return in benefit to the health system in both Tasmania and Australia.
This is not about winners and losers in the world of health services, it is actually about allowing two systems to operate side by side to ensure the best outcomes for the entire community.
That is why governments of either persuasion need to re- instate the Private Health Insurance Rebate to previous levels of support for all Australians.
The Private Health Insurance Rebate should be seen as an investment in health care, not a cost to the Federal Budget.
This investment will encourage and support more in the community to take out and or retain health insurance, which in turn will allow for a greater reinvestment back into health care providing the four-to-one return.
With our population ageing at record rates, we must seek to provide an all-encompassing and inclusive health system to ensure that every Australian has simple and affordable access to health care, regardless of their socio- economic status or level of education.
With this in mind, it will be interesting to see where groundbreaking research being undertaken at the Menzies Research Institute takes the broader debate of health economics in Tasmania.
Using a so-called evidence- based approach, researchers such as Professor Andrew Palmer argue that costs of one treatment for a particular intervention must be weighted against the consequences of not being able to provide treatments to other members of the community.
Professor Palmer poses the question whether or not new interventions are good value for money, fairly funded and affordable compared to other strategies competing for the same limited budgetary dollars.
Clearly this is an emerging debate, but given the spiralling rates of increasing costs for the provision of health services, it will be interesting to see where the evidence-based approach goes.
Regardless of this, all sectors of the community need to work together to ensure that diseases and illnesses are as preventable as they can possibly be.
This will only be achieved through greater communication, greater community involvement and more stakeholder engagement across all levels of decision-making.
Like anything, there is a level of sustainable spending that needs to be identified if we are going to make the sorts of improvements our health system so desperately needs.
Tasmanians deserve to once again have the best health system in the world.
We owe it to those people who have illnesses or diseases which cannot be prevented to return Tasmania to world leadership in the provision of effective, efficient and affordable health care services.
Colleen McGann is chief executive officer of St Lukes Health.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.