This paper offers a wide ranging analysis of the drivers that resulted in scrutiny of medical, nursing, and healthcare professional roles. It suggests that what is needed is a coherent vision of the future shape of the health workforce. This requires moving beyond the presumption that reforming working practices primarily involves "delegating doctors" responsibilities to nurses. The paper argues that it is self evident that the implications of changes in healthcare roles and the ability of existing professionals to function effectively in the future will require education, training, and human resource investment supportive of the changes. It suggests a clear definition of competence and a national standard to practice is essential for nurses working in acute and acute critical settings. There should therefore be a correlation between levels of practice, levels of education, and remuneration. Furthermore, education programmes for senior nurses should sit coherently alongside the education programmes required by Modernising Medical Careers. Finally, the realisation of the government's service and modernisation agenda will require a culture change within higher education institutions, postgraduate deaneries, professional organisations, workforce development confederations, and NHS trusts.
Malaria control in India has occupied high priority in health sector consuming major resources of the Central and State governments. Several new initiatives were launched from time to time supported by foreign aids but malaria situation has remained static and worsened in years of good rainfall. At times malaria relented temporarily but returned with vengeance at the local, regional and national level, becoming more resilient by acquiring resistance in the vectors and the parasites. National developments to improve the economy, without health impact assessment, have had adverse consequences by providing enormous breeding grounds for the vectors that have become refractory to interventions. As a result, malaria prospers and its control is in dilemma, as finding additional resources is becoming difficult with the ongoing financial crisis. Endemic countries must contribute to make up the needed resources, if malaria is to be contained. Malaria control requires long term planning, one that will reduce receptivity and vulnerability, and uninterrupted financial support for sustained interventions. While this seems to be a far cry, the environment is becoming more receptive for vectors, and epidemics visit the country diverting major resources in their containment, e.g. malaria, dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fevers, and Chikungunya virus infection. In the last six decades malaria has taken deep roots and diversified into various ecotypes, the control of these ecotypes requires local knowledge about the vectors and the parasites. In this review we outline the historical account of malaria and methods of control that have lifted the national economy in many countries. While battles against malaria should continue at the local level, there is a need for large scale environmental improvement. Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has provided huge funds for malaria control worldwide touching US$ 2 billion in 2011. Unfortunately it is likely to decline to US$ 1.5 billion in the coming years against the annual requirement of US$ 5 billion. While appreciating the foreign assistance, we wish to highlight the fact that unless we have internal strength of resources and manpower, sustained battles against malaria may face serious problems in achieving the final goal of malaria elimination.
Drug resistance; malaria elimination; malaria profile; malaria vectors; MDG; MPO; urban malaria scheme
Over the last three decades significant efforts have been made in many European countries to move away from a mental health system dominated by institutional care towards one whereby the main emphasis is on providing care and support within the community. Although the time of starting the reforms, their pace, the political context, and the exact objectives varies substantially across Europe, practically all countries have been undergoing such major reforms aimed at establishing services in the community to replace institutional based care. Each country makes its own decisions about the necessary mental health services taking into account a range of factors including population needs, level of resources, flexibility and coordination of organizational structures, as well as local culture. These factors become an integral element of a national mental health policy and action plan, closely linked with national public health strategies.
Greece has been modernizing an outdated mental health system, which was based on institutional care, over the last 20 years, by developing community-based mental health care. This article describes the methodology used for the evaluation of the Psychargos programme of the mental health reforms in Greece. Various forms of community-based mental health services have been developed including supported living facilities, community mental health centres and employment opportunities.
Evaluation; Mental health reforms; Community mental health services; Greece
The medical component of workers' compensation programs-now costing over $24 billion annually-and the rest of the nation's medical care system are linked. They share the same patients and providers. They provide similar benefits and services. And they struggle over who should pay for what. Clearly, health care reform and restructuring will have a major impact on the operation and expenditures of the workers' compensation system. For a brief period, during the 1994 national health care reform debate, these two systems were part of the same federal policy development and legislative process. With comprehensive health care reform no longer on the horizon, states now are tackling both workers' compensation and medical system reforms on their own. This paper reviews the major issues federal and state policy makers face as they consider reforms affecting the relationship between workers' compensation and traditional health insurance. What is the relationship of the workers' compensation cost crisis to that in general health care? What strategies are being considered by states involved in reforming the medical component of workers compensation? What are the major policy implications of these strategies?
Rather than improving efficiency, the reforms imposed on the NHS have increased bureaucracy, reduced patient choice, limited the range of core services, and led to inequity of treatment. In this paper I examine how the medical profession might help to solve these problems. Priorities must be set for health care since no government can afford all the possibilities offered by medical science. It is essential to forge a consensus of patients, carers, professionals, the public, and government if a system of priorities is to be equitable and just. We also need to be able to measure quality of outcome in health care. This requires consensus on what is the desired outcome and the development of appropriate guidelines, audit, and performance review. This is primarily a task for the health professions supported by management and by adequate investment. Basically, the government must reinstate the three traditional values of the NHS--equity, consensus, and regard for representative professional advice.
Despite the political and economic reforms that have swept Eastern Europe in the past 5 years, there has been little change in Poland's health care system. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has targeted preventive care as a priority, yet the enactment of legislation to meet this goal has been slow. The process of reform has been hindered by political stagnation, economic crisis, and a lack of delineation of responsibility for implementing the reforms. Despite the delays in reform, recent developments indicate that a realistic, sustainable restructuring of the health care system is possible, with a focus on preventive services. Recent proposals for change have centered on applying national goals to limited geographic areas, with both local and international support. Regional pilot projects to restructure health care delivery at a community level, local health education and disease prevention initiatives, and a national training program for primary care and family physicians and nurses are being planned. Through regionalization, an increase in responsibility for both the physician and the patient, and redefinition of primary health care and the role of family physicians, isolated local movements and pilot projects have shown promise in achieving these goals, even under the current budgetary constraints.
The General Medical Council (GMC) is holding consultations in order to decide on the proposed changes to the undergraduate medical assessment. In the last round of consultation only eight medical students formally responded nationally.
To determine the views of a larger proportion of final year medical students across the country on the proposed changes to the undergraduate medical assessment.
An online national survey of 10 medical schools, from which 401 responses from final year medical students were collected.
Results and discussion
The results indicate the medical students' views on the GMC's proposed changes to standardise the assessment system. The majority of the students were in favour of having a say in any changes to their future assessment. They agreed with the principle that there should be a consistency between assessments at different medical schools and currently their results did not represent preparedness to practice.
In Finland, dental services are provided by a public (PDS) and a private sector. In the past, children, young adults and special needs groups were entitled to care and treatment from the public dental services (PDS). A major reform in 2001 – 2002 opened the PDS and extended subsidies for private dental services to all adults. It aimed to increase equity by improving adults' access to oral health care and reducing cost barriers. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the reform on the utilization of publicly funded and private dental services, numbers and distribution of personnel and costs in 2000 and in 2004, before and after the oral health care reform. An evaluation was made of how the health political goals of the reform: integrating oral health care into general health care, improving adults' access to care and lowering cost barriers had been fulfilled during the study period.
National registers were used as data sources for the study. Use of dental services, personnel resources and costs in 2000 (before the reform) and in 2004 (after the reform) were compared.
In 2000, when access to publicly subsidised dental services was restricted to those born in 1956 or later, every third adult used the PDS or subsidised private services. By 2004, when subsidies had been extended to the whole adult population, this increased to almost every second adult. The PDS reported having seen 118 076 more adult patients in 2004 than in 2000. The private sector had the same number of patients but 542 656 of them had not previously been entitled to partial reimbursement of fees.
The use of both public and subsidised private services increased most in big cities and urban municipalities where access to the PDS had been poor and the number of private practitioners was high. The PDS employed more dentists (6.5%) and the number of private practitioners fell by 6.9%. The total dental care expenditure (PDS plus private) increased by 21% during the study period. Private patients who had previously not been entitled to reimbursements seemed to gain most from the reform.
The results of this study indicate that implementation of a substantial reform, that changes the traditionally defined tasks of the public and private sectors in an established oral health care provision system, proceeds slowly, is expensive and probably requires more stringent steering than was the case in Finland 2001 – 2004. However, the equity and fairness of the oral health care provision system improved and access to services and cost-sharing improved slightly.
In 1997 there was a major reform of the government run urban health insurance system in China. The principal aims of the reform were to widen coverage of health insurance for the urban employed and contain medical costs. Following this reform there has been a transition from the dual system of the Government Insurance Scheme (GIS) and Labour Insurance Scheme (LIS) to the new Urban Employee Basic Health Insurance Scheme (BHIS).
This paper uses data from the National Health Services Surveys of 1998 and 2003 to examine the impact of the reform on population coverage. Particular attention is paid to coverage in terms of gender, age, employment status, and income levels. Following a description of the data between the two years, the paper will discuss the relationship between the insurance reform and the growing inequities in population coverage.
An examination of the data reveals a number of key points:
a) The overall coverage of the newly established scheme has decreased from 1998 to 2003.
b) The proportion of the urban population without any type of health insurance arrangement remained almost the same between 1998 and 2003 in spite of the aim of the 1997 reform to increase the population coverage.
c) Higher levels of participation in mainstream insurance schemes (i.e. GIS-LIS and BHIS) were identified among older age groups, males and high income groups. In some cases, the inequities in the system are increasing.
d) There has been an increase in coverage of the urban population by non-mainstream health insurance schemes, including non-commercial and commercial ones.
The paper discusses three important issues in relation to urban insurance coverage: institutional diversity in the forms of insurance, labour force policy and the non-mainstream forms of commercial and non-commercial forms of insurance.
The paper concludes that the huge economic development and expansion has not resulted in a reduced disparity in health insurance coverage, and that limited cross-group subsidy and regional inequality is possible. Unless effective measures are taken, vulnerable groups such as women, low income groups, employees based on short-term contracts and rural-urban migrant workers may well be left out of sharing the social and economic development.
Commentary on health policy reform in Australia often commences with an unstated logical error: Australians' health is good, therefore the Australian Health System is good. This possibly explains the disconnect between the options discussed, the areas needing reform and the generally self-congratulatory tone of the discussion: a good system needs (relatively) minor improvement.
This paper comments on some issues of particular concern to Australian health policy makers and some areas needing urgent reform. The two sets of issues do not overlap. It is suggested that there are two fundamental reasons for this. The first is the failure to develop governance structures which promote the identification and resolution of problems according to their importance. The second and related failure is the failure to equip the health services industry with satisfactory navigation equipment - independent research capacity, independent reporting and evaluation - on a scale commensurate with the needs of the country's largest industry. These two failures together deprive the health system - as a system - of the chief driver of progress in every successful industry in the 20th Century.
Concluding comment is made on the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC). This continued the tradition of largely evidence free argument and decision making. It failed to identify and properly analyse major system failures, the reasons for them and the form of governance which would maximise the likelihood of future error leaning. The NHHRC itself failed to error learn from past policy failures, a key lesson from which is that a major - and possibly the major - obstacle to reform, is government itself. The Commission virtually ignored the issue of governance. The endorsement of a monopolised system, driven by benevolent managers will miss the major lesson of history which is illustrated by Australia's own failures.
Brazil and Colombia have pursued extensive reforms of their health care systems in the last couple of decades. The purported goals of such reforms were to improve access, increase efficiency and reduce health inequities. Notwithstanding their common goals, each country sought a very different pathway to achieve them. While Brazil attempted to reestablish a greater level of State control through a public national health system, Colombia embraced market competition under an employer-based social insurance scheme. This work thus aims to shed some light onto why they pursued divergent strategies and what that has meant in terms of health outcomes.
A critical review of the literature concerning equity frameworks, as well as the health care reforms in Brazil and Colombia was conducted. Then, the shortfall inequality values of crude mortality rate, infant mortality rate, under-five mortality rate, and life expectancy for the period 1960-2005 were calculated for both countries. Subsequently, bivariate and multivariate linear regression analyses were performed and controlled for possibly confounding factors.
When controlling for the underlying historical time trend, both countries appear to have experienced a deceleration of the pace of improvements in the years following the reforms, for all the variables analyzed. In the case of Colombia, some of the previous gains in under-five mortality rate and crude mortality rate were, in fact, reversed.
Neither reform seems to have had a decisive positive impact on the health outcomes analyzed for the defined time period of this research. This, in turn, may be a consequence of both internal characteristics of the respective reforms and external factors beyond the direct control of health reformers. Among the internal characteristics: underfunding, unbridled decentralization and inequitable access to care seem to have been the main constraints. Conversely, international economic adversities, high levels of rural and urban violence, along with entrenched income inequalities seem to have accounted for the highest burden among external factors.
Brazil; Colombia; health care reform; health care system; equity; health inequities; comparative analysis; health policy
In 2004, The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care recognised that the lack of a comprehensive framework describing competencies for patient safety was a barrier to achieving a competent and safe health workforce. This article describes the building of a national patient safety education framework that describes the competencies for healthcare workers.
Develop an educational framework that was patient centred and identified the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by healthcare workers irrespective of their profession, position or location.
The content of the framework was developed using a four‐staged approach: literature review, development of learning areas and topics, classification into learning domains and, lastly, converting into a performance‐sbased format. An extensive consultation and validation process was also undertaken.
A national patient safety education framework was endorsed by The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care in 2005. The framework is already being used to develop curricula and train the trainer programmes in patient safety.
The framework, which draws its educational approach from adult learning principles, was extensively researched and built on the experience of healthcare workers. The next challenge is to test different strategies for implementing the framework.
During the past decade, the U.S. health care system has faced increasing challenges in delivering high quality of care, ensuring patient safety, providing access to care, and maintaining manageable costs. While reform progresses at a national level, health care providers have a responsibility and obligation to advance quality and safety. In 2009, the authors implemented a department-wide Clinical Quality Program. This Program comprised of an inter-disciplinary group of providers and staff working together to ensure the highest quality of patient care. The following methodology was followed to establish the Program: (1) Identifying the Department's quality improvement (QI) and patient safety priorities based on reviewing prior performance data; (2) Aligning the Department's priorities with institutional goals to select mutually significant initiatives; (3) Finalizing the goals for improvement based on departmental priorities, existing expertise and resources; (4) Launching the Program through an inter-disciplinary retreat that emphasizes open dialogue, innovative solutions, and fostering leadership in frontline providers; (5) Sustaining the QI initiatives through proactive performance review and management of barriers; and (6) Celebrating success to empower providers to remain engaged. Several challenges are inherent to the implementation of a clinical quality program, including lack of time and expertise, and the hierarchical nature of medicine, which can create a barrier to teamwork. This Program illustrates that improvement can lead to a sustainable clinical quality program and culture change.
Clinical quality program; Health care reform; Quality improvement
The purpose of this paper is to provide an historical review of the progression of events within the jurisdiction of the province of Ontario related to the issue of laboratory diagnosis and the profession of chiropractic. The provisions of relevant legislation, task forces, Councils, reviews, consensus statements, Commissions and committees, are highlighted and discussed during respective time periods. Chiropractors had entitlement to order and perform laboratory tests until 1972 when a regulatory amendment, made without consultation with the chiropractic profession, precluded their continuing entitlement. Chiropractic patients require access to diagnostic laboratory services and equitable access to necessary laboratory services should be restored and preserved. This is consistent with the academic institutional accreditation standards of chiropractic education and the jurisdictional regulatory mechanisms of chiropractic practice and is consistent with both protecting and enhancing the public interest.
chiropractic; manipulation; legislation; laboratory; diagnosis
For the last 20 years injury prevention policy in Australia has been hampered by poor consultation practices, limited stakeholder involvement, inadequate allocation of resources, poor implementation, and an absence of performance measures. This paper describes the development of injury prevention policy in Australia from its beginnings in 1981 to the current day and considers what measures should be undertaken to create an effective platform for the reduction of the burden of injury in Australia.
The National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan 2004–2014, released in 2005, needs to be supported by a whole of government commitment to the reduction of injury. The Council of Australian Governments would be an ideal forum to monitor progress, supported by a cross-government Ministerial Council.
To establish and sustain the high-performing health care system envisioned in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), current provisions in the law to strengthen the primary care workforce must be funded, implemented, and tested. However, the United States is heading towards a severe primary care workforce bottleneck due to ballooning demand and vanishing supply. Demand will be fueled by the “silver tsunami” of 80 million Americans retiring over the next 20 years and the expanded insurance coverage for 32 million Americans in the ACA. The primary care workforce is declining because of decreased production and accelerated attrition. To mitigate the looming primary care bottleneck, even bolder policies will be needed to attract, train, and sustain a sufficient number of primary care professionals. General internists must continue their vital leadership in this effort.
primary care; workforce; health reform; health policy
In recent years, national and state/territory governments have undertaken an increasing number of initiatives to strengthen general practice and improve its links with the rest of the primary health care sector. This paper reviews how far these initiatives were contributing to a well functioning and comprehensive primary health care system during the period 2000–2002, using a normative model of primary health care and data from a descriptive study to evaluate progress.
There was a significant number of programs, at both state/territory and national level. Most focused on individual care, particularly for chronic disease, rather than population health approaches. There was little evidence of integration across programs: each tended to be based in and focus on a single jurisdiction, and build capacity chiefly within the services funded through that jurisdiction. As a result, the overall effect was patchy, with similar difficulties being noted across all jurisdictions and little gain in overall system capacity for effective primary health care.
Efforts to develop more effective primary health care need a more balanced approach to reform, with a better balance across the different elements of primary health care and greater integration across programs and jurisdictions. One way ahead is to form a single funding agency, as in the UK and New Zealand, and so remove the need to work across jurisdictions and manage their competing interests. A second, perhaps less politically challenging starting point, is to create an agreed framework for primary health care within which a collective vision for primary health care can be developed, based on population health needs, and the responsibilities of different sectors services can be negotiated. Either of these approaches would be assisted by a more systematic and comprehensive program of research and evaluation for primary health care.
Human resources are the most important assets of any health system, and health workforce problems have for decades limited the efficiency and quality of Latin America health systems. World Bank-led reforms aimed at increasing equity, efficiency, quality of care and user satisfaction did not attempt to resolve the human resources problems that had been identified in multiple health sector assessments. However, the two most important reform policies – decentralization and privatization – have had a negative impact on the conditions of employment and prompted opposition from organized professionals and unions. In several countries of the region, the workforce became the most important obstacle to successful reform.
This article is based on fieldwork and a review of the literature. It discusses the reasons that led health workers to oppose reform; the institutional and legal constraints to implementing reform as originally designed; the mismatch between the types of personnel needed for reform and the availability of professionals; the deficiencies of the reform implementation process; and the regulatory weaknesses of the region.
The discussion presents workforce strategies that the reforms could have included to achieve the intended goals, and the need to take into account the values and political realities of the countries. The authors suggest that autochthonous solutions are more likely to succeed than solutions imported from the outside.
The Centre for Data Linkage (CDL) has been established to enable national and cross-jurisdictional health-related research in Australia. It has been funded through the Population Health Research Network (PHRN), a national initiative established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). This paper describes the development of the processes and methodology required to create cross-jurisdictional research infrastructure and enable aggregation of State and Territory linkages into a single linkage “map”.
The CDL has implemented a linkage model which incorporates best practice in data linkage and adheres to data integration principles set down by the Australian Government. Working closely with data custodians and State-based data linkage facilities, the CDL has designed and implemented a linkage system to enable research at national or cross-jurisdictional level. A secure operational environment has also been established with strong governance arrangements to maximise privacy and the confidentiality of data.
The development and implementation of a cross-jurisdictional linkage model overcomes a number of challenges associated with the federated nature of health data collections in Australia. The infrastructure expands Australia’s data linkage capability and provides opportunities for population-level research. The CDL linkage model, infrastructure architecture and governance arrangements are presented. The quality and capability of the new infrastructure is demonstrated through the conduct of data linkage for the first PHRN Proof of Concept Collaboration project, where more than 25 million records were successfully linked to a very high quality.
This infrastructure provides researchers and policy-makers with the ability to undertake linkage-based research that extends across jurisdictional boundaries. It represents an advance in Australia’s national data linkage capabilities and sets the scene for stronger government-research collaboration.
Data linkage; Infrastructure; Population; Health; Research
In 1999, the Korean government made a drug pricing policy reform to improve the efficiency and transparency of the drug distribution system. Yet, its policy formation process was far from being rational. Facing harsh resistance from various interest groups, the government changed its details into something different from what was initially investigated and planned. So far, little evidence supports any improvement in Korea's drug distribution system. Instead, the new drug pricing policy has deteriorated Korea's national health insurance budget, indicating a heavier economic burden for the general public. From Korea's experience, we may draw some lessons for the future development of a better health care system. As a society becomes more pluralistic, the government should come out of authoritarianism and thoroughly prepare in advance for resistance to reform, by making greater efforts to persuade strong interest groups while informing the general public of potential benefits of the reform. Additionally, facing developing civic groups, the government should listen but not rely too much on them at the final stage of the policy formation. Many of the civic groups lack expertise to evaluate the details of policy and tend to act in a somewhat emotional way.
Health; reform; policy; interest group; politics; drug price; Korea
Signs of discontent with the health care system are growing. Calls for health care reform are largely motivated by the continued increase in health care costs and the large number of people without adequate health insurance. For the past 20 years, health care spending has risen at rates higher than the gross national product. As many as 35 million people are without health insurance. As proposals for health care reform are developed, it is useful to understand the roots of the cost problem. Causes of spiraling health care costs include "market failure" in the health care market, expansion in technology, excessive administrative costs, unnecessary care and defensive medicine, increased patient complexity, excess capacity within the health care system, and low productivity. Attempts to control costs, by the federal government for the Medicare program and then by the private sector, have to date been mostly unsuccessful. New proposals for health care reform are proliferating, and important changes in the health care system are likely.
Uganda implemented health sector reforms to make services more accessible to the population. An assessment of the likely impact of these reforms is important for informing policy. This paper describes the changes in utilization of health services that occurred among the poor and those in rural areas between 2002/3 and 2005/6 and associated factors.
Secondary data analysis was done using the socio-economic component of the Uganda National Household Surveys 2002/03 and 2005/06. The poor were identified from wealth quintiles constructed using an asset based index derived from Principal Components Analysis (PCA). The probability of choice of health care provider was assessed using multinomial logistic regression and multi-level statistical models.
The odds of not seeking care in 2005/6 were 1.79 times higher than in 2002/3 (OR = 1.79; 95% CI 1.65 - 1.94). The rural population experienced a 43% reduction in the risk of not seeking care because of poor geographical access (OR = 0.57; 95% CI 0.48 - 0.67). The risk of not seeking care due to high costs did not change significantly. Private for profit providers (PFP) were the major providers of services in 2002/3 and 2005/6. Using PFP as base category, respondents were more likely to have used private not for profit (PNFP) in 2005/6 than in 2002/3 (OR = 2.15; 95% CI 1.58 - 2.92), and also more likely to use public facilities in 2005/6 than 2002/3 (OR = 1.31; 95% CI 1.15 - 1.48). The most poor, females, rural residents, and those from elderly headed households were more likely to use public facilities relative to PFP.
Although overall utilization of public and PNFP services by rural and poor populations had increased, PFP remained the major source of care. The odds of not seeking care due to distance decreased in rural areas but cost continued to be an important barrier to seeking health services for residents from poor, rural, and elderly headed households. Policy makers should consider targeting subsidies to the poor and rural populations. Public private partnerships should be broadened to increase access to health services among the vulnerable.
In Australia, compared with other developed countries the many and varied programs which comprise public health have continued to be funded poorly and unsystematically, particularly given the amount of publicly voiced political support.
In 2003, the major public health policy developments in communicable disease control were in the fields of SARS, and vaccine funding, whilst the TGA was focused on the Pan Pharmaceutical crisis. Programs directed to health maintenance and healthy ageing were approved. The tertiary education sector was involved in the development of programs for training the public health workforce and new professional qualifications and competencies. The Abelson Report received support from overseas experts, providing a potential platform for calls to improve national funding for future Australian preventive programs; however, inconsistencies continued across all jurisdictions in their approaches to tackling national health priorities. Despite 2004 being an election year, public health policy was not visible, with the bulk of the public health funding available in the 2004/05 federal budget allocated to managing such emerging risks as avian flu. We conclude by suggesting several implications for the future.
In 2001, the New Zealand government introduced its Primary Health Care Strategy (PHCS), aimed at strengthening the role of primary health care, in order to improve health and to reduce inequalities in health. As part of the Strategy, new funding was provided to reduce the fees that patients pay when they use primary health care services in New Zealand, to improve access to services and to increase service use. In this article, we estimate the impact of the new funding on general practitioner and practice nurse visit fees paid by patients and on consultation rates. The analyses involved before-and-after monitoring of fees and consultation rates in a random sample of 99 general practices and covered the period from June 2001 (pre-Strategy) to mid-2005.
Fees fell particularly in Access (higher need, higher per capita funded) practices over time for doctor and nurse visits. Fees increased over time for many in Interim (lower need, lower per capita funded) practices, but they fell for patients aged 65 years and over as new funding was provided for this age group. There were increases in consultation rates across almost all age, funding model (Access or Interim), socio-demographic and ethnic groups. Increases were particularly high in Access practices.
The Strategy has resulted in lower fees for primary health care for many New Zealanders, and consultation rates have also increased over the past few years. However, fees have not fallen by as much as expected in government policy given the amount of extra public money spent since there are limited requirements for practices to reduce patients' fees in line with increases in public funding for primary care.
Ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of the population is essential for the wellbeing of a nation. At least three aspects of sexual and reproductive health are among the key policy issues for present Australian governments: maintaining and increasing the birth rate; reducing the abortion rate; and preventing and controlling Chlamydia infections.
The overall aim of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships is to document the natural history of the sexual and reproductive health of the Australian adult population.
A nationally representative sample of Australian adults 16–64 years of age was selected in a two-phase process in 2004–2005. Eligible households were identified through random digit dialling. We used separate sampling frames for men and women; where there was more than one eligible person in a household the participant was selected randomly. Participants completed a computer-assisted telephone interview that typically took approximately 25 minutes to complete. The response rate was 56%. A total of 8,656 people were interviewed, of whom 95% (8243) agreed to be contacted again 12 months later. Of those, approximately 82% have been re-contacted and re-interviewed in 2006–07 (Wave Two), with 99% of those agreeing to be contacted again for Wave Three.
ALSHR represents a significant advance for research on the linked topics of sexual and reproductive health. Its strengths include the large sample size, the inclusion of men as well as women, and the wide age range of the participants.