In a new book, health expert Fr Gerard Arbuckle has called for improved access of the poor to Australia's health system.
Describing the new publication 'A Preferential Option for the Poor' by Fr Arbuckle as a "roadmap for improved access to health care by people living in poverty", Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty said that "at a time when government hospital and health services are under strain and for profit services are becoming increasingly commercialised, the role of non-government not-for-profit service providers could not be more important," the West Ender reports.
Mr Laverty said Catholic Health Australia was preparing a framework for improved access to health for the socially disadvantaged.
"When access to health care is discussed in Australia, the focus is very often on surgery waiting times or the cost of prostheses. These are important issues, but so to is access to care by the homeless, non-English speakers, or those unable to fully participate in society because of social exclusion," Mr Laverty said.
"With the prospect of reform arising from the work of the Health and Hospital’s Commission, Government should be turning its attention to promoting health services able to reach out to those with barriers to participation in Australian society.
"Catholic Hospitals exist to provide care to all Australians. They offer services to those able to afford care, as well as those unable to afford care. They also design their outreach services to be out on the streets where the homeless and the mentally unwell live their lives.
"In approaching reform of health care, Government should ensure services meeting needs of the disadvantaged are supported and able to thrive," Mr Laverty said.
"Fr Arbuckle's contribution to public debate has been to make the case for the needs of the poor in the planning of health and aged services. He does so supporting a strong and vibrant health system able to meet the needs of both the affluent and the poor.
"We commend Fr Arbuckle on his work, and look forward to contributing to Government thinking by putting forward a framework for improved access to health services for socially disadvantaged Australians, Mr Laverty concluded.
Health reform excluding the poor – Catholic Health Australia (West Ender, 29/5/08)