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AMA(SA) Election update: SA BEST on health

On Friday 9 February as Premier Jay Weatherill tackled COAG and the ANMF decried the lack of policies from former No Pokies man and SA state senator, now state election candidate Nick Xenophon, Mr Xenophon release some more health policies. On the table already were a proposal to increase the age at which cigarettes can legally be purchased to 21 years and a royal commission into the SA Health system. What was added to the list? 

Below is a summary of the policies as listed on the SA BEST website after the announcement. You can see the media release here and visit the site yourself for updates here.

A Royal Commission to conduct a root and branch review (by health experts) of South Australia's health system - to look at "every scandal" - known and unknown and uncover the root causes of systemic failure. An interim report delivered to government and parliament within six months and a final report six months after that.

Alongside the Royal Commission SA-BEST will also work with professional medical associations, health experts and practitioners to refocus health spending with a priority on patient safety, equity of access, a strong public health workforce and a more accountable and transparent health system.

Priorities include to:

  1. Protect existing health capacity with no further beds to be closed
  2. Reinstate acute and critical care and emergency support services at Modbury and Noarlunga hospitals, and maintain acute and special care services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  3. Repurpose the Repat to support community healthcare and suspend any deal or signing of a contract with ACH until after the election
  4. Ensure the commitment to relocate Hampstead Rehab Centre to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at equal or better standards is honoured.
  5. Find a workable solution for Labor's broken promise for a co-located Women's and Children's Hospital.
  6. Develop a dedicated Eye Health centre to address the ophthalmology needs of Central and Northern Adelaide and increase resources for eye health in Southern Adelaide.
  7. Recruit an additional neuro interventionist to support a 24-hour stroke service at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, recognising the costs of this will be more than offset by better health outcomes requiring less hospitalisation.
  8. Provide sustainable operational and administrative resourcing for our Ambulance service, including additional paramedics, ambulances and equipment.
  9. Review the capacity of mental health, palliative care and cancer health resources across the state to determine where additional resources are needed.
  10. Develop a primary health care plan which supports the integration of community-based health care provision into the management of patients within our public hospitals.
  11. Increase sustained investment in community, preventative and lifestyle programs, noting that, for example, even six additional nurses in the community to support patients with Parkinson's disease will have significant social and economic benefits and savings to the health system through reduced hospitalisations.
  12. Restore and maintain Country Health SA budgetary requirements for country hospitals, including fast-tracking capital upgrades and maintenance that have been neglected by the centralised SA Health administration.
  13. Increase the scope of medical services available in regional hospitals to enable more patients to be treated locally and help reduce demand on metropolitan hospitals.
  14. Establish a stronger network of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and support services in country communities.
  15. Real protection for whistleblowers to ensure they can speak out on failures in health and health administration without fear of losing their careers or any form of recrimination.
  16. Violence against our health care staff is totally unacceptable. We must increase protection for our ambulance officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses who provide emergency services to our community.
  17. Greater investment into training to develop stronger own in-house skills rather than the habitual and default use of external consultants.
  18. We must have stronger and more pro-active planning and training to address current and future workforce shortages; and we must improve and resource administrative support to let our health professionals do their job.
  19. Move to increase availability of permanent and full-time nursing and midwifery roles to levels that meet workforce demand while retaining flexibility.
  20. Maintenance of penalty rates in the SA public health sector and categorially opposes any further privatisation or outsourcing of public health services.
  21. Initiate an online data and performance statistics program for all hospitals including surgical waiting times, outpatient appointment waiting times and medical activity data, consistent with the model in Sweden.
  22. Urgently and independently review the Electronic Patient Administration System (EPAS) to address hardware, technical, reliability and operational issues.
  23. Implement standard clinical pathways across local health networks for all highly utilised clinical interventions to improve care, quality and consistency of patient stay.
  24. Strengthen local decision making and reduce overcentralisation of health administration.
    (SA-BEST will be making further specific announcements in relation to health that are consistent with this policy.)


State and Commonwealth Collaboration
Working with Federal SA-BEST colleagues to:

  • Improve focus on integrating patient care from hospital to home and tailoring health services to meet the needs of individuals 
  • Improve planning and collaboration between state and commonwealth governments, clinicians, students, universities and colleges to ensure we have a strong health and medical workforce
  • Support the development of principles that underpin the concept of advanced nursing practice that will assist necessary workforce flexibility
  • Better coordinate, resource and implement preventative health measures

Palliative Care 

Our priorities are to:

  • Make palliative care a state health priority.
  • $24.4 million-a-year recurrent funding that will increase access to palliative care services
  • $14 million a year on properly designed community palliative care, which will give an additional 5600 people the choice to die where they wish, including at home
  • Increasing palliative care services to provide access 24/7.
  • Integrating palliative care into chronic care pathways with $6 million a year allocated to this initiative.
  • $400,000 has been allocated per year to keep people informed about palliative care services available to them.