APA calls for healthcare reform in Tasmania ahead of state election

Road sign reading elections ahead against background of blue sky

APA calls for healthcare reform in Tasmania ahead of state election

Road sign reading elections ahead against background of blue sky

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is calling on Tasmanian political parties to prioritise healthcare reform, highlighting the need to address patient wait times and intervene for the needs of the population across the state ahead of the upcoming election.  

APA National President Scott Willis has worked in regional Tasmania for over 30 years, he says the state’s healthcare model needs to evolve to better meet the needs of its population. Funding physiotherapy services is part of this evolution. 

“We have the oldest population in the country, the number of Tasmanians over the age of 85 will nearly double over the next decade. We also have the highest consumption of prescription opioids and incidence of back problems and osteoporosis.  New investment in publicly funded physiotherapy will advance health, improve care and increase value for Tasmanians. 

"Physiotherapy led interventions like GLA:D, the Good Life with osteoArthritis: Denmark program, have been shown to reduce pain by 31%1and decrease analgesic consumption, while improving joint function and the perceived need for surgery,” Mr Willis said.

Physiotherapy helps people of all ages to prevent, manage and rehabilitate injury, illness or disability. Community-based physiotherapy also has a key role in preventing hospitalisation or reducing the length of stay in hospital.

The APA is calling for greater access to physiotherapy services for all Tasmanians, particularly priority populations that stand to benefit the most from physiotherapy to support prevention and maintenance of chronic conditions.  

Reforms should include greater use of, and access to, generalist and advanced practice physiotherapists to reduce hospital and medical clinic wait lists, reduce costs, and improve outcomes for patients. 

The APA's Tasmanian election statement highlights five key areas aimed at addressing both immediate and long-term healthcare challenges in Tasmania. 

  1. Better community care: Illustrates the importance of physiotherapy-led early intervention and prevention strategies; the APA is calling for increased public funding for physiotherapy services. This includes integrating physiotherapy into digital health platforms and enhancing efficiency within the WorkCover system. 
  2. Optimising hospital and community services: Proposals include the development of advanced practice physiotherapy roles and the expansion of physiotherapy-led pre- and post-surgery interventions to improve patient flow and outcomes.
  3. Prioritising rural physiotherapy: The APA is advocating for strengthened access to physiotherapy in rural areas, including funding for integrated care models and incentives to attract more physiotherapists to rural Tasmania. 
  4. Workforce reform: Addressing the critical shortage of physiotherapists, the APA is seeking investment in workforce development, including funding for clinical placements and upskilling opportunities. 
  5. Physiotherapy in Urgent Care Clinics: To provide faster, more efficient care, the APA proposes prioritising the integration of First Contact Physiotherapy services in Urgent Care Clinics, offering a new pathway for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and conditions. 

“By integrating funded First Contact Physiotherapy (FFCP) services into primary care and as part of the Urgent Care Clinics trials, we can alleviate the strain on GPs, emergency departments and orthopaedic wait lists, ensuring quicker, more efficient care for the large cohort of patients that present with musculoskeletal conditions."  

Integrating FCP into our healthcare system is a logical step forward. The evidence is clear – this model not only delivers better health outcomes but represents a more efficient use of our healthcare resources,” Mr Willis said. 

The APA has written to all political parties, urging them to consider these healthcare reforms. By investing in physiotherapy services, Tasmania can enhance the health and wellbeing of its community, reduce healthcare costs, and ensure a more sustainable future for its healthcare system.  

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017-18). National Health Survey: State and territory findings. ABS.


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