Australia’s health system is too complicated for patients, and the federal government should relinquish control of GP services to the states and territories, according to an OECD report.
The report gives the health system a tick of approval overall but says hospitalisation rates for respiratory disease show primary or frontline healthcare needs to be addressed.
Hospitalisation for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are “considerably higher” than the OECD average, the Health Care Quality Review of Australia report on Monday says.
The report blames the split in funding and responsibility among federal and state governments as the source of the problem.
It adds to complexity for patients and creates a poorly co-ordinated system, increasing risk of medical errors.
The report suggests the federal government could hand over responsibility for primary care over to states and territories, to better align it with hospital and community services.
‘This could include an enhanced federal government role in steering policy, funding, co-ordination and performance monitoring,’ head of the OECD health division Francesca Colombo said.
‘The states and territories in turn could take on a strengthened role as health service providers, developing innovation responsive to local population need.’
The good news is that Australia has the sixth highest life expectancy among OECD countries at 82.2 years.
It has the fourth lowest smoking rate at 12.8 per cent, and the fifth-best breast cancer five-year survival rate at 88 per cent.
The not-so-good news is that Australia is the fifth most obese country in the OECD.
Almost 30 per cent of Australians aged over 15 are obese, compared with the OECD average of 19 per cent.