A debate at the National Press Club (NPC) between the Minister for Health and the Shadow Minister for Health is essential, so that Australians have an opportunity to hear from the Government and Opposition about their policies for the next term.

Reports that, unlike previous election campaigns, no formal NPC debate on health care policy will take place are disappointing and, if confirmed, denies voters the chance to see the next Minister for Health questioned about their policies.

In the absence of a formal debate, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) calls on the Minister for Health and Shadow Minister for Health to answer these 10 questions:

  1. The greatest impediments to better health care are costs and access. Will you commit to overhaul referral pathways and lift barriers to allow physiotherapists to directly refer patients, and to fund imaging requests for patients?
  2. Physiotherapy provides a path to better health and wellbeing, but access is denied or inadequately funded for too many Australians. Will you renew the Medicare system by investing in publicly-funded physiotherapy which will advance health, improve care, and increase value?
  3. Multidisciplinary team care works. It is a model already used in parts of our health system and overseas. How will your government invest in multidisciplinary care, and what fundamental reform will you deliver that provides a way forward to overcome the barriers to integrated multidisciplinary team-based care?
  4. Australia’s health system fails to facilitate essential care because patients are not funded to access physiotherapy services beyond current and very limited MBS chronic disease items. What is your policy position on investing in better and faster access to diagnosis, treatment and care of musculoskeletal pain and chronic conditions?
  5. Does your party support the proposition that better outcomes for patients can be delivered by investing in sustained, integrated, team-based care encompassing high-value physiotherapy?
  6. What are your policies to embed digital health into physiotherapy practice through targeted incentives?
  7. There are incentive programs for GPs to work in regional and remote areas - what mechanisms will you employ to increase and maintain an allied health workforce, including physiotherapists, in regional and rural Australia?
  8. Numerous reports, recommendations, strategies and plans have been released, including the National Obesity Strategy, the 10 Year Primary Health Care Plan, the Productivity Commission Report on Mental Health, and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Will you commit to implementing these along with timelines for deliverables, funding mechanisms and independent accountability mechanisms?
  9. The pandemic has shown us what reform at pace can look like. We have seen how achievable it is to remove the barriers to make true health system transformations when needed, as illustrated with the adoption of Medicare funded telehealth. What other reforms will you initiate that shift priorities to ensure those most in need are not waiting for care?
  10. How will your government prioritise physiotherapy workforce planning to avoid a supply crisis?

See the APA’s election statement here.



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