Call for Academy to empower consumer voice

A new report has called for a Consumer Health Leaders Academy to strengthen the role of consumers in health system decision-making.

The Academy would equip consumer advocates and advisers within health consumer networks and who work with governments, government agencies and other organisations where consumer involvement is vital to further develop their skills as leaders.

We need to empower consumers to have impact and influence to ensure their interests are not squeezed or in fact squeezed out of health decision-making,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“The Academy concept has been proposed by the Consumers Commission, comprising 30 consumer and health leaders, established by CHF in July to identify lessons from the COVID-19 experience.

“The pandemic has taught us a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of the health system and the Commission has made 23 recommendations for improving the system.

The Commission’s report recommendations include:

  • Training, resources and support to build consumer leadership capacity and capability
  • Adoption of a Health in All Policies approach and a national wellbeing budget and report card
  • Embed a mental health and wellbeing focus into COVID-19 recovery plans
  • Embed consumer leadership and participation in health system governance and culture
  • Fund a database of evidence-based consumer resources and research
  • Adopt blended funding approaches that incentivise consumer-centred, team-based care
  • Finalise, fund and implement the 10 Year National Primary Care Plan
  • Increase investment in prevention to at least 5 per cent of overall health spending as part of the National Preventive Health Strategy
  • Provide ongoing access to telehealth and ensure virtual healthcare is available to all.

Ms Wells said consumers’ lived experiences were critical to understanding what works, where the gaps are and what changes are needed to improve outcomes.

“It is often overlooked that it is consumers and particularly those with chronic conditions who are more likely to experience all aspects of the health system than most health care providers.

“The Commission report supports existing propositions of CHF, including the development of a national social prescribing scheme to provide supports for GPs and other health providers to link patients with chronic conditions to social services..

“As CHF’s development of our Collaborative Pairs program has demonstrated, consumers and clinicians can work together effectively for better services,” Ms Wells said.

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