Health networks have been accused of failing residents of Ardeer and Deer Park East after the suburbs recorded “appalling rates” of preventable hospital admissions over the past decade.
A Grattan Institute report has mapped suburbs where residents are most likely to end up in hospital for treatment of manageable conditions, such as diabetes, tooth decay and asthma.
Grattan Institute health program director Dr Stephen Duckett said the report highlighted “unacceptable” place-based inequality in Victoria.
He said conditions, such as diabetes, tooth decay and asthma, should be managed in the community, without the need for hospital admissions.
Dr Duckett has called on state and federal governments and health networks to come up with targeted solutions for each health hotspot, saying that Australia’s one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare is not working.
“Government and primary health networks must ensure that all communities get a fair go,” Dr Duckett said.
“Improving the health of people in these priority places will, in the long-run, improve wellbeing and opportunity, social cohesion and inclusion, workforce participation and productivity – and reduce health system costs.
“The government will save money and, more importantly, some of the most disadvantaged Australians will get the chance to lead healthier, more productive lives.”
The Grattan Institute report found 25 Victorian hotspots where admission rates for such conditions were 50 per cent above state averages, every year for 10 years.
Corio, Norlane and Broadmeadows topped the list. In Ardeer and Deer Park postcode 3022, the institute uncovered admission rates for people diagnosed with conditions such as diabetes and asthma, as well as congestive heart failure.
Cohealth chief executive Lyn Morgain said many Ardeer and Deer Park residents faced social and economic disadvantages, or had difficulty accessing transport, healthy food and secure housing, making it harder for them to stay healthy.
She said cutting high rates of hospital admissions required several strategies.
“First we need to make sure that people can access health care outside of hospital settings, so that their health can be managed to stop things getting so bad that a hospital visit is required,” Ms Morgain said.
“The second thing we need to do is work to address the underlying cause of poor health – education, employment, housing, social exclusion. This is a bigger and more complicated job and it can’t just be done by health organisations – but it’s vital to preventing ill-health, ensuring people can be happy and well, and our community as a whole can benefit.”