Leading emergency physicians call for whole-of-system health care reform

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust
Published online: 14 June 2021

THE current crisis in the acute care sector requires whole-of-system reform of Australian health care, according to three leaders of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM).

Writing in InSight+, the Medical Journal of Australia’s news magazine, Dr John Bonning, President of ACEM, Dr Simon Judkins, the Immediate Past President, and Dr Clare Skinner, the President-Elect of the College, said that emergency department (ED) overcrowding was “a sign of dysfunction across the broader health system”.

“While we are constantly striving to improve the quality of emergency care, we highlight that most of the solutions to overcrowding lie outside the ED,” they wrote.

InSight+ recently published a poll asking readers whether they agreed with the statement: “Urgent reform is needed to support the acute care sector of Australian health care”. To date there have there were 1160 responses, with only 11 disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

“Much of the problem lies in the way our health services are governed and funded,” Judkins and colleagues wrote.

“Community and primary care, including GPs and residential aged care facilities, are regulated by the federal government.

“Acute hospitals are managed by the states.

“Add in a heavily subsidised private hospital sector and opaque (and often confusing) health insurance products and it is no surprise that the acute health sector is a mess, with cost-shifting, duplication and excessive bureaucracy.

“Review of governance and finance arrangements to drive best-practice, health-promoting, collaborative care must be an urgent priority for reform.”

The article is free to access and is available here:

There is also a podcast with Dr Simon Judkins available, and free to access, here:

  • Cate Swannell



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