“The AIHW data comprehensively backs the AMA’s call for greater investment in primary care services, particularly general practice, If people with complex and chronic disease cannot access the right services in the community, they often end up in hospital, and this costs the health system a lot more. It is internationally recognised that a strong primary health care system is the key to the future sustainability of any health system.
The Government is talking a lot about the need to reform and improve primary care, but the talk is not being backed up with policy and action – policy and action that is needed right now.”
AMA President, Professor Brian Owler (pictured above with NACCHO chair Matthew Cooke ) commenting on data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) See full AMA press release below
1 in 5 Australians affected by multiple chronic diseases
About half of all Australians have a chronic disease, and around 20% have at least two, according to new data released online today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The release covers eight chronic diseases: arthritis, asthma, back problems, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health conditions.
‘When two or more diseases occur at the same time, it is referred to as ‘comorbidity’, said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.
‘Sometimes these diseases occur together simply by chance, but often it’s because there are some associations between them, such as shared risk factors.’
Ageing is a factor that has a particularly strong association with comorbidity.
‘Older people are more vulnerable to developing many diseases, and Australians’ increasing life expectancy means a greater chance for multiple conditions to arise,’ Ms York said.
Nearly 40% of Australians aged 45 and over have two or more of the eight chronic diseases examined in today’s release.
‘For this age group, the two most common chronic diseases to occur in combination with any other chronic disease were arthritis and cardiovascular disease,’ Ms York said.
‘When looking at particular combinations of diseases in this age group, we found that arthritis and cardiovascular disease occurred together most frequently, in 16% of the population, followed by arthritis and back problems (10%) and back problems and cardiovascular disease (8%).’
Among the younger age group (0-44 years), mental health conditions and back problems were the most common comorbidities, followed by mental health and asthma, and back problems and asthma.
‘Comorbidities are associated with poorer health outcomes, more frequent use of health services, and higher healthcare costs,’ Ms York said.
‘But studying comorbidities allows preventive, management and treatment services to be better planned to meet the needs of those affected.’
The web pages are available at http://www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.
Response from Australian Medical Association
AIHW data highlights the need for greater investment in general practice
13 Aug 2015
AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said today that data released yesterday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) sends another strong message to the Government that significant new investment in primary care, especially general practice, is needed to equip the health system to meet current and future community needs.
Professor Owler said the AIHW data highlights the significant burden of chronic disease, with about half of all Australians having a chronic disease, and around 20 per cent having at least two.
“The AIHW data comprehensively backs the AMA’s call for greater investment in primary care services, particularly general practice,” Professor Owler said.
“If people with complex and chronic disease cannot access the right services in the community, they often end up in hospital, and this costs the health system a lot more.
“It is internationally recognised that a strong primary health care system is the key to the future sustainability of any health system.
“The Government is talking a lot about the need to reform and improve primary care, but the talk is not being backed up with policy and action – policy and action that is needed right now.
“There is an urgent need to provide greater funding to general practice so that hardworking GPs across Australia are supported in caring for their patients, many of whom are suffering from multiple chronic conditions.
“The pressure on GPs in suburbs and local communities across the nation is compounded by the impact of the Medicare patient rebate freeze. The freeze is hurting patients and the doctors providing their care.
“The AMA supports the Government’s primary care review and is participating in the review process, but the outcomes of the review are some time off.
“We need to see evidence that the primary care review and the parallel review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) are geared to providing greater investment in health, and are not intended to provide cost savings to the Budget,” Professor Owler said.
Canberra Hearings for Chronic Disease Inquiry
The first public hearings of a new parliamentary inquiry into Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care will be held this week in Canberra.
Chair of the House of Representatives Health Committee, Steve Irons MP said, “The Committee’s initial hearings will consider a range of issues including chronic disease prevention and management in rural, remote and indigenous primary health care.
The Committee will also hear from groups about the prevention and management of chronic mental health conditions, dementia, and cancer in primary health care.
“There are many stakeholders in the fields of chronic disease prevention and management and primary health care, and the Committee is interested in how these stakeholders work to improve health outcomes and avoid unnecessary hospitalisations,”
Mr Irons said. “Bringing stakeholders together and finding ways to prevent chronic disease or improve the way chronic disease is managed in primary health care may deliver positive outcomes for all Australians at risk of chronic disease,” Mr Irons concluded.
Details of the hearings follow:
Tuesday, 18 August 2015 – 12.00 pm to 12.40 pm
Committee Room 1R3, Parliament House, Canberra
Friday, 21 August 2015 – 9.00 am to 4.20 pm
Committee Room 2R2, Parliament House, Canberra
Public hearing programs and further information about the inquiry is available
The hearings will be broadcast live (audio only) at:http://www.aph.gov.au/live
The inquiry is ongoing and still receiving submissions. The preferred method of receiving submissions is by electronic format lodged online using a My Parliament account.
Inquiry information: please contact the committee secretariat on:
(02) 6277 4145 or visit the committee’s website: www.aph.gov.au/health