Re-orientation of Health Services towards Health Promotion: An Australian Case Study of Aborted Health Service Reform

Fran Baum, Helen van Eyk, Catherine Hurley
2006 Australian Journal of Primary Health  
This paper examines a case study of local health care reform in Australia that had as one of its aims the desire to increase the health promotion and partnership work of the region. The case study highlights the pressures contemporary health systems are facing and the challenge of re-orientating health services towards health promotion in this environment. Qualitative research, including interviews, focus groups, a staff survey and policy analysis were used to identify health system
more » ... system professionals' perceptions of the impact of health care reform. The case study portrays a complex system that is subject to frequent change but little reform. Our case study indicates that features of health systems that encourage collaborative partnerships are those where there is: an environment that encourages trust; a common purpose among the key players; a supportive external environment; practical projects to work on; organisational stability; commitment from staff throughout organisations; willingness to commit resources; evidence that change is likely to improve outcomes for users; and an organisational environment in which learning from past experience is encouraged. A number of constraints and tensions that work against introducing a greater emphasis on health promotion and collaboration within the system studied are discussed, including tensions between central funding bureaucracies and health care agencies and the reform fatigue and increasing cynicism among staff resulting from continuous change. The paper concludes that against the chaotic background of contemporary health service reform it is very difficult to bring about genuine reform to achieve a shift to more emphasis on health promotion and partnerships.
doi:10.1071/py06019 fatcat:a7oemy4ppnaxxpeqmj66yto2ym