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Concern about 'rushed' review of health services

Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Author: Melissa Mack, Indaily

A CONTROVERSIAL review of health services in SA should have been given eight months instead of eight weeks to deliver informed recommendations into budget cuts.

Health economist Leonie Segal told Indaily the key objectives of the McCann Review into non-hospital based health services were flawed, with more time needed to give evidence-based recommendations.

The report has found $14.9 million worth of savings and a reduction of 109 full time staff by 2015.

"There is no shortcut and that is part of the problem - to make decisions that will affect health and well-being as little as possible, it's hard," Segal said.

"Eight weeks [for McCann to write the review], I mean, hey it's not long enough. He needed eight months, not eight weeks."

She said while some programs recommended for cutting might not be beneficial, the decisions should be evidence-based.

"Ideally there should have been a greater focus on evidence and I think the service providers have a major role in that in supporting that capacity to make decisions based on evidence.

"One of the things that wasn't sufficiently focussed on was the issue of disadvantage in terms of criteria that wasn't up there as an objective and I think it should have been."

The community services industry has been outraged at cuts planned for youth, women's and Aboriginal programs that they see as vital to these vulnerable groups.

Health Department CEO David Swan said there had been a focus on "efficiencies".

"There is a focus on efficiency and effectiveness as well as achieving savings," he said.

Some of the recommendations are cost-shifting exercises, such as the nurse practice program, which will be transferred to federal funding.

"There are currently six hospital-based services delivered out of three hospitals and the recommendations are that we should progressively transfer these services to the hospital sector rather than the primary health care sector from 2014," Swan said.

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