Catholic Health Australia has recognised the pivotal role of allied health professionals in the Catholic sector by setting up a new committee that will drive advocacy and improve health outcomes for patients across the country.

CHA’s Allied Health Committee has drawn members from every hospital in its network providing it with a unique opportunity to drive debate and policy across both the private and public hospital sectors.

Priority areas include building on our understanding of innovative models of care that extend services into the home and community and ensuring the expansion of telehealth is high-quality and sustainable as it lasts well beyond the pandemic.
Allied health professionals make up around a quarter of the health workforce and include a broad range of services ranging from rehabilitation, to dieticians, to occupational therapy, to speech pathology and physiotherapy.

Rachel Resuggan chair of the committee and Group Manager Allied Health at St John of God Health Care, said: “Allied health represents an incredibly broad and important range of disciplines. Many professionals work across many settings, from people’s homes, to community settings and hospitals. This broad exposure to many sectors allows these specialists to note gaps and opportunities where we can begin to address the challenges of our current siloed systems to work towards a more integrated and holistic delivery of care.

“Our aim is to be able to deliver the best care to Australians across the country, at the right time and in the right place in the most appropriate setting for their needs. That could be in a hospital setting, in a community clinic or within a person’s own home.”

The Allied Health Committee has set out its key 2021 priorities which include supporting and expanding telehealth service delivery, and helping to build and deliver more innovative models of care.

Stephanie Panchision, Senior Health Policy Advisor with CHA, said: “COVID-19 demonstrates that health services can adapt very quickly to new models of care, but we must ensure that any care that is being delivered is at the very highest quality.

“The advent of a global pandemic has created unique challenges including changing our understanding of how allied health supports these response efforts.

“We need to build up a strong evidence base to make sure that are services have the best outcomes.”

Ms Resuggan said that while the committee’s members may have varying interests and specialisations, it was already becoming clear that there were areas of broad consensus.

She said: ‘The services that allied health professional provide transform the lives of millions of Australians every year. This sector has a key role to play in both the management and treatment of diseases, but also in prevention.

“These services are also a lifeline to many older Australians who rely on them to maintain their independence. It’s incredibly important that the allied health sector is given greater recognition and that we can secure the best outcomes for both patients, our hospital networks and state and federal governments.”

This Committee looks forward to engaging constructively with Government to raise the profile of the allied health sector and serve as a valuable resource for consultation on issues of importance to clinicians and service operators.

“We appreciate the Department of Health’s recognition of the valuable role allied health serves in the health system and more widely through the recent appointment of a Chief Allied Health Officer, and we look forward to working together and raise awareness of the issues experienced by this profession,” said Ms Resuggan.


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