Faster treatment, better outcomes and lower costs are required to meet Australia’s current and future healthcare needs, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has outlined the contribution physiotherapy can make towards these ends in a landmark document released today.
Future of Physiotherapy in Australia: A 10-Year Vision Policy Paper, presents policy solutions to support system-wide reform across primary care, health equity, multidisciplinary care, hospitals, public and private health insurance and COVID recovery.
The paper calls for greater integration of physiotherapists throughout the health system and increased investment in publicly-funded physiotherapy to better manage the ongoing impact of long COVID.
“Our current system leaves people waiting too long for referrals and the care they need. This Policy Paper offers governments, health departments and insurers, policy solutions that will deliver new, advanced pathways that optimise the patient journey,” said APA National President Scott Willis on launching the 10-Year Policy Paper.
Physiotherapy is the second largest nationally-regulated allied health profession¹, and the third fastest growing profession². Each year GPs refer more patients to physiotherapists than to any other single group³.
Mr Willis said that the APA’s role is to improve the way patients are diagnosed, referred and treated.
“This will be achieved through reforming primary care to better incorporate physiotherapy, and give patients team-based, integrated care.
“As Future of Physiotherapy in Australia details, our health system cannot be reformed without significant structural, governance and funding reform, combined with some much-needed political will,” Mr Willis said.
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP, helped launch the Paper and said he acknowledges “the critical role that physiotherapists play in the health system.”
“I really commend the APA for considering the changing face of healthcare in the development of its Future of Physiotherapy in Australia White Paper…providing a key, 10-year plan delivering the outcome that patients and governments want; high value care, reduced costs, improved efficiency and patient ownership of their own care journey,” the Minister said.
The Paper outlines workforce challenges and opportunities and details the need for physiotherapy to be at the forefront of health workforce planning.
“Increasing and upskilling the physiotherapy workforce will help build the capability of our health system to meet changing care needs, especially the increasing needs of our ageing population,” Mr Willis said.
“We have evidenced ways to advance hospital and community physiotherapy through new pathways that bring physiotherapy treatment to inpatient, outpatient and community-based services.
“For those with private health insurance, our policy vision strengthens patients’ choice and opportunities for prevention, while ensuring those who need it the most can access the supports and services they need,” Mr Willis said.
The 10-year vision was developed in response to what the APA views as a decade of health reform consultations, paired with policy stagnation creating a key policy window for the health system.
“In the next decade, Australia’s health care system will look very different. We must start properly investing in health reforms that remove obstacles to patient care, and improve access and the affordability of health and care.
“The APA has set out an extensive, methodical vision to help achieve this. Reform begins now,” Mr Willis said.
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