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Report from National Health Strategy

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26/03 '91 13:00 © 0 8 2106780 ADELAIDE MEETING

Australian Health Ministers' Conference

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The Australian Health Ministers Conference was told today that there would be a significant decrease in requirement for hospital beds in the future because of changing medical practice, such as improved anaesthesia and pharmaceutical practices, less invasive surgery, and day surgery. *

The Director of the National Health Strategy, Ms Jenny Macklin, was reporting to the Health Ministers on the progress of her strategy.

"Admission rates are projected to increase by 30 percent (1986-2001), but this will be compensated by an anticipated continuing decline in average length of stay with a resultant decline in overall bed days of perhaps as high as 20 percent," Ms Macklin said.

Ms Macklin said there would be a continuing decrease in the requirement for beds because of changing medical practice including day surgery, improved anaesthesia, improved pharmaceuticals and less invasive surgery.

"This is contrary to the popular view about the need for more and more hospital beds, and demonstrates that we have to get away from the simplistic use of bed numbers as a guide to the quality of our health system.

"What the public debate needs to concentrate on is the type of health outcomes that we want - the number of patients treated and the quality of care they receive.

"We need to look at better management of demand for hospital services and greater coordination within the hospital system to overcome bottlenecks in the provision of various specialist services. .

"This will involve redefining the different roles that hospitals can play within a state system and increasing the emphasis on the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of our hospital system. ·


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It will also require better coordination between community and hospital services, with hospitals concentrating on acute care and specialist elective services and community services taking greater responsibility for primary health care.

For more information Marilyn Chalkley Tony Nagy AHMC Secretariat (08) 210 6782