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Health authorities failing regions: report

AAP logoAAP 24/07/2016 Belinda Merhab

Frontline health services are failing to target regions with high rates of preventable hospital admissions, a new report shows.

The Grattan Institute report has found 38 areas in Queensland and 25 in Victoria where potentially preventable hospitalisations, for conditions like asthma or diabetes, have been at least 50 per cent higher than the state average every year for a decade.

It found Primary Health Networks - 31 organisations responsible for delivering local primary care services across the country - are receiving inadequate data that doesn't allow them to identify these hot spots in order to fix the problem.

"This is unacceptable really," report author Stephen Duckett told AAP.

"More has to be done."

Dr Duckett, a former Health Department boss, says the networks are provided reports based on one year of data by government agency the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

But one year of data is not enough.

The report says the federal government should invest in three-to-five-year intervention trials targeting priority areas.

They should be developed locally but evaluated nationally, to see what works before rolling them out to other areas.

Government should hold off on significant investment until interventions are proven to reduce hospitalisations, while networks should be analysing data from general practices to understand diseases and those most at-risk in the area.

"The evidence of what works is not strong, so we need to build the evidence," Dr Duckett said.

If potentially preventable hospitalisations in these areas were reduced to average levels in Queensland and Victoria alone, the direct savings would be at least $10 million a year, while indirect savings would be significantly larger, the report says.

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