Eight critical challenges facing the Department of Health and Aged Care

Eight critical challenges facing the Department of Health and Aged Care

The Department of Health and Elderly Care’s capability review has warned the health care system will face “immense strain” over the next four years.

This departmental review, the first since 2014, identified eight critical challenges and nine priority areas for capacity building.

The challenges faced include increasing demand for aged care in an aging population exacerbated by increasing labor shortages.

Related to this are the challenges of managing the transition from acute care to chronic disease management.

Another challenge is overcoming the problems faced by health workers, especially in primary and rural health services, as well as the increasing cost of hospital care.

The review also warns that the department will need to be at the forefront of developing technologies such as mRNA and AI technologies while keeping costs in mind.

There should be an increased focus on preventive healthcare and preparation for the “big global trends” outlined in CSIRO’s Our Future World report. Trends include the impact of climate change.

The eighth challenge is preparing for the next pandemic to make sure the department is “ready for battle”.

“These challenges require strengthening and integrating system-wide policy development capabilities, as solutions will involve interactions between different parts of the health and aged care system,” the report says.

“These things cannot be handled effectively if done separately. Increased collaboration with states and territories is also important because, in many cases, resolving these issues requires significant collective action involving the Australian governments, states and territories.”

Former DAWE chief biosecurity Andrew Tongue, former Boston Consulting Group lead public sector and healthcare practice Larry Kamener and Infrastructure deputy secretary David Hallinan led the review.

The review said that the staff “had good reasons to be proud of their agency and felt a great sense of accomplishment.”

The efforts of the department during the COVID-19 pandemic are highly commendable.

“While no process is without learning, the results achieved by Australia are world leading,” said the reviewers in the foreword.

“This environment also helped build a very strong sense of identity and results focus within the department, as well as securing a strong foundation for culture and leadership.”

Nine priority areas were identified for capacity building:

  • Integrated strategic policy development capability
  • Use data to inform policy
  • Systemic consideration of health workers and aged care
  • Increased knowledge of department-funded and regulated providers
  • Readiness for future delivery of health services
  • Take lessons from COVID-19
  • Collaborative and enduring relationships with states and territories
  • Improved communication and engagement with the community
  • Build and empower mid-level departments

Responding to the review, former Secretary of State Brendan Murphy said his department would work closely with the government to address the review’s findings, including resource issues.

“Submission of this capabilities review report is timely as the Department of Health and Aged Care undergoes a reorganization following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition to a new administration and now to a new secretary, Blair Comley PSM,” said Murphy. .

“The last few years have been challenging and rewarding for the department.

“The intelligence, talent and dedication of the staff is impressive, and they have achieved an extraordinary collective achievement.”

The capabilities review was brought back recently. APSC was assessed last month.

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