Preventable illness costs Australians billions of dollars per annum, and a new Grattan Institute report (‘Perils of place: identifying hotspots of health inequalities’) pinpoints various geographical areas across both Queensland and Victoria (the two states analysed for the report) that have had potentially preventable hospitalisation rates at least 50% higher than the state average over the past decade.
‘Perils of place: identifying hotspots of health inequality’ shows that places such as Frankston and Broadmeadows in Victoria and Mount Isa and Palm Island in Queensland have had potentially preventable hospitalisation rates at least fifty percent above the state average in every year for a decade.
“When people end up in hospital for diabetes, tooth decay, or other conditions that should be treatable or manageable out of hospital, it’s a warning sign of system failure. Australia’s health system is consistently failing some communities,’ says the report.
“Using data available for two states, this report identifies 38 places in Queensland and 25 in Victoria that have had potentially preventable hospitalisation rates at least 50 per cent higher than the state average in every year for a decade.”
Queensland ill health hotspots
The following areas of Queensland were identified as hotspots for conditions such as diabetes, ear nose throat conditions, epilepsy, cellulitis, angina, urinary tract infection and chronic ambulatory care sensitive conditions.
|Central Highlands East||Mareeba|
|Mount Morgan||Cape York|
|Banana||Torres Straight Islands|
|Riverview||Mt Isa Region|
|Kingaroy Region North||Barcaldine – Blackall|
|Goondiwindi||Far South West|
|Andergrove – Beaconsfield||Charleville|
Victorian ill health hotspots
The following areas of Victoria were identified as hotspots for conditions such as diabetes, ear nose throat conditions, epilepsy, cellulitis, angina, urinary tract infection and chronic ambulatory care sensitive conditions.
|Ferntree Gully and surrounds||Hattah and surrounds|
|Heyfield, Licola, Reynard and surrounds||Robinvale, Annuello and surrounds|
|Donald and surrounds||Murrindindi and surrounds|
|Tatura and surrounds||Donald and surrounds|
|Ardmona, Coomboona, Undera & surrounds||Swan Hill and surrounds|
|Shepparton||Ardeer and Deer Park East|
|Mildura||Meadow Heights and Coolaroo|
|St Arnaud and surrounds||Terang|
|Langwarrin South and Baxter||Colac|
|Cranbourne||Little Desert, Nhill and surrounds|
|Corio, Norlane and North Shore (Geelong)|
Grattan Institute Health Program Director Stephen Duckett says the problem can be addressed, but only if governments come up with targeted solutions for individual places.
“Australia is not a uniform country and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Local, tailored policy responses are required,” Dr Duckett says.
“Government and Primary Health Networks must ensure that all communities get a fair go. The government will save money and, more importantly, some of the most disadvantaged Australians will get the chance to lead healthier, more productive lives.”
Responding to the report, the Consumers health Forum of Australia said that Australia’s health services too often fail to match the promise of what is meant to be a universal health system.
“The trouble is that in Australia universal health care does not guarantee equal opportunity to be healthy. That is most graphically shown in the yawning gap in health status between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians,” said the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells.
“The report says this is unacceptable place-based inequality and a warning sign of system failure. We agree.
“What the report also shows is that potentially preventable hospitalisations are widely spread, are not necessarily linked to lower socio-economic areas and can involve concentrations of quite different diseases.
“CHF supports the report’s recommendations that tailored preventative interventions be piloted in selected locations. This would further consolidate the roles of PHNs as system improvers with capacity to deliver direct savings by working to introduce appropriately targeted and innovate chronic disease management and self-management services to both address health inequalities and reduce potentially preventable hospitalisations in priority places.
“In an era where waste and cost effectiveness in health care spending is becoming a crucial issue, these types of PHN-led initiatives are firmly in the consumers’ interest as well as the taxpayers’.”