The following 2012-13 Victorian General Audit report provides details on consumer participation within the Victorian health care system.
Consumers should be meaningfully involved in decision-making about their healthcare and treatment, and broader health policy, planning and service delivery. There is genuine commitment and effort from the Department of Health and health services to facilitate meaningful consumer participation.
The department has led implementation of consumer participation through strong policy direction and this has translated into appropriate policies, systems and activities in the four audited health services. Implementing consumer participation is relatively recent and a challenging process, and health services do not always provide sufficient staff training, resources or support to integrate consumer participation across their organisation. Consequently, achievements both between and within health services vary.
There are opportunities to enhance consumer participation at all levels, including better supporting consumers to understand and engage with basic health service information, and better involving consumers in organisational strategic planning and evaluation. This will become increasingly important as new national accreditation standards are implemented from January 2013, with significantly higher expectations and evidence requirements for consumer participation. The department’s leadership has firmly placed consumer participation on the agenda of Victoria’s public health services. However, to further improve, the department needs to address gaps in its own implementation of consumer participation, provide better oversight of health services’ consumer participation activities and evaluate the impact of its main consumer participation policy.