‘Huge’ number of Australians have taken drugs for non-medical reasons, study finds

Australia’s healthcare system is under increasing strain as a result of an ageing population and an ageing healthcare workforce.

It is expected that more than 20% of Australians will have some form of chronic health condition, including chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, by 2050, according to the latest report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

A further 30% of the population are predicted to be over the age of 65 and a further 15% of those aged 65 and over will be aged 65 or over by 2050.

The report, released on Monday, found that the Australian healthcare system has been hit by a range of pressures and challenges over the past few decades, including the ageing population, increasing numbers of non-emergency hospitalisations, a declining quality of care and the closure of primary care, which is one of the primary providers of primary healthcare.

“The challenge facing healthcare systems around the world is that there are two problems at the same time, so it’s a bit like trying to fix both a car and a house,” AIHW chief executive John Collins said.

Mr Collins said the report’s findings show the “unprecedented” impact of the ageing baby boom on the health system.

Dr Collins said this had led to “a major increase in the number of people being treated in hospitals with chronic conditions”.

“There’s a big increase in hospitalisations that are non-urgent, which means they’re not being treated as urgently,” he said.

“And there’s a huge increase in admissions to hospitals in terms of emergency department visits, which are a form of preventative care that is quite expensive.

There’s also a huge amount of unnecessary hospitalisation and in the case of cardiac surgery there’s also quite a large amount of waste and poor outcomes.

This has resulted in the system being a little bit more fragmented and more susceptible to disease spread.”

AIHw chief executive Dr John Collins has described the ageing of the Australian population as a “big challenge” but says it is “absolutely critical” to ensure that people are not over-diagnosed.

Topics:health,health-policy,healthcare-facilities,care-giving,australia,southern-austria,indonesiaFirst posted November 12, 2019 16:21:46Contact Amy WhiteMore stories from New South Wales

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