The Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines highlight the viable frameworks to be used by the government-run health sector (State Government Victoria, n.d.). All health entities that are funded by the government are expected to use these guidelines as a part of their management strategies. There are numerous advantages of using the policy. First, it allows accountability, as the health institutions have to account for every dollar they use. In addition, the hospitals and other health facilities that get the funding have to ensure they provide high-quality services. There is no room for poor health care, as the institutions have to report to the government. It suffices to mention that the guidelines are updated on a yearly basis. Currently, the institutions adhere to the Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines 2014/2015. This document has four parts.
The first part, according to the State Government Victoria web page, comprises the overview and new initiatives section. The part gives a brief introduction of the document and highlights any significant changes in funding for that specific year. The changes usually concern the reduction, increase or delay of funding. In the current version, there is no significant change in funding from the previous year. The second part of the document is the pricing and financing arrangement section. This section gives the details of the funding and other productive things the hospitals can get. The third part of the document provides with the terms and conditions of funding. The Victorian government provides mandatory requirements that either qualify or disqualify a public health institution from receiving funding. The last part of the document breaks down the budget, showing the institutions and how they are expected to use the money that will be dispensed (State Government Victoria, n.d.).
Analysis of Individual Parts
The Government of South Australia (2009) argues that one of the primary responsibilities of any government is to ensure that its citizens get high-quality health care. In many cases, high-quality healthcare is provided by private health institutions. The Victorian government has tried to change this perception, which appears to be held in many countries, by using the guidelines. Public hospitals that need the funding are forced to provide quality healthcare for them to run. Each of the four parts of the document has been designed to allow the hospitals to provide quality health care, thereby keeping the promise of the Victorian government to provide excellent healthcare to the community. It is most important for patients with special needs. For example, patients suffering from a mental condition and those who need emergency care have benefitted greatly from these guidelines.
The first part, the overview and new initiative section, allows the government to provide proper health care to the citizens by guiding the healthcare industry on things that should be changed for the institutions to get funding. Hanley (2013) explains that the first part is very essential, as it is informed by the mistakes of the previous year. In turn, it not only improves the guidelines used to determine funding, but it also improves the health care provided. It suffices to mention that the section also clearly shows the Department of Health’s responsibility to ensure that healthcare providers receive funding for services rendered. If the institutions follow the guidelines provided, then they get funding. Consequently, there is no single health facility that can force it to shut down due to the lack of funding from the government. In turn, more clinics and hospitals can be opened to ensure that every citizen has access to all kinds of health facilities. It is crucial to mention that the government is not restricted to funding of the general hospitals and clinics; it also funds mental health facilities and other special clinics.
The second part of the document, the pricing and funding arrangement, goes hand in hand with the National Healthcare Agreement. The agreement is between all governments in Australia, which give an oath to provide community-based health care. Thus, the Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines 2014/2015 is one of the ways that the Victorian government is using to keep the oath taken. The National Healthcare Agreement assures that it is the Victorian government’s responsibility to deliver health services to the community. The National Healthcare Agreement stipulates that all the governments should keep improving the status of health care in the country (National Healthcare Agreement, 2014). Drawing from the Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines 2014/2015, the Victorian government honours the Agreement by giving the Department of Health the responsibility to provide funding for all the public health facilities that need the money in order to run efficiently.
The third part of the document, the terms and conditions of funding part, is essential as it gives the guidelines on how the money will be used. The Government of South Australia (2009) asserts that misappropriation of funds is the core cause of inadequate health care in both developed and less developed countries. Ensuring that the money provided by the government is used specifically for healthcare provision is crucial in determining quality health care.
The last part of the document, as mentioned, breaks down the budget that will be given. This transparency allows for accountability. There is an allowance for miscellaneous activities in the 2014/2015 document, which allow the hospital to use some of the funds for emergencies and other things that can crop up, but were not included in the budget. It suffices to mention that the budget breakdown is also considered to be a guideline (Hanley, 2013).
These sections, as well as the entire Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines document, have improved several sections in the health care department. Two of the most affected sections are the mental institutions and similar sections in hospitals, and the emergency rooms. Modern equipment and tools to help the patients are lacking in the mental departments and institutions in Australia. However, the institutions are now able to purchase the things they need using the funds that have to be provided to the institutions. In the same vein, the emergency rooms in numerous hospitals suffered from low staff. The patients did not get enough attention because they would be too many and the health practitioners too few. The support received from the government allows the hospitals to adjust their employees’ salaries and hire more staff if needed. These two areas need the funds that are donated to the hospitals and health centres for two main reasons. The first reason is that they mostly deal with life or death situations. The second reason is that the environment can be dangerous. For the ER and the mental health institutions to be funded, they first have to either be part of or be as whole public institutions. In addition, they have to agree to use the money given to improve their conditions, thereby improving the services and health outcomes of the patients and employees.
Importance of the Guidelines for Health agencies, providers and health information managers
Numerous scholars and health practitioners agree that the Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines are beneficial. Hanley (2013) explains that the guidelines are important for healthcare agencies, as it gives them the opportunity to purchase high standard equipment for their facilities. Part of providing quality health care relies heavily on the equipment used. The budget provides some amount for the purchase of health equipment in an attempt to raise the quality of health care services. In addition, Hanley (2013) asserts that the guidelines are essential for healthcare agencies because they keep them running. The breakdown of the budget allows for accountability and proper use of funds. In turn, it keeps the hospitals or other health facilities in check.
The health care providers also benefit from the guidelines in several ways. First, the employment rate for people in that field increases (Greenhalgh, 2013). Apart from increasing employment opportunities for doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners, the guidelines also ensure that the working environment for these individuals is favourable. Giving money to improve the services rendered helps the Victorian government ensure that the hospitals have the right ambiance for health, thereby providing a healthy working environment for the employees. It suffices to mention that the guidelines also ensure that the workers are catered for adequately. Hanley (2013) explains that part of the budget is dedicated to the payment of salaries for the workers.
In addition, the guidelines aid the health information managers by giving them clear and well documented information from the hospitals. As mentioned, some of the money that is given goes into improving the status of the hospital, which includes buying modern equipment for storing patient data. In turn, this makes it easier for the HIMs to do their jobs effectively.
In the event that any hospital or part of a hospital that is receiving money does not comply with the guidelines, the Department of Health is forced to cancel the prior arrangement of providing money to the hospital. In addition, the Department of Health will also be allowed to launch investigations against the hospital or health facility to determine how the management had used the money allocated. It goes without saying that if the noncompliance is realized before money is allocated, then the arrangement is cancelled immediately.
In conclusion, the Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines have been used by the government of Victoria to provide high-quality healthcare services to the community. The guidelines are revised each year to ensure that some of the challenges experienced in the previous year have been mitigated. The document contains four parts that tackle different aspects. These parts are the overview and new initiatives part, the pricing and funding arrangements section, the terms and conditions of funding, and the breakdown of the budget. One of the advantages of the guidelines is that they allow for accountability. The guidelines break down the budget and ensure that each department in a hospital gets enough money to sustain it. Additionally, the guidelines ensure that the government provides sufficient funds to the public health facilities to provide the expected care. Several scholars and health practitioners agree that the guidelines help health care providers by increasing the number of public health care facilities. In turn, this creates more jobs. In the same vein, the guidelines dictate the payment of the workers in the facility. This ensures that they receive payment on time, thereby motivating them to work harder and better. Similarly, the guidelines create a favourable working environment, which is the right environment for providing quality health care.
Government of South Australia. (2009). SA health service framework for older people 2009. South Australia: SA Health.
Greenhalgh, T. (2013). Primary health care: Theory and practice. Oxford: Wiley.
Hanley, J. (2013). Perinatal mental health: A guide for health professionals and users. West Sussex: Wiley.
National Healthcare Agreement. (2014). Identifying and definitional attributes. Web.
State Government Victoria. (n.d.). Victorian health policy and funding guidelines 2014/2015. Web.
Victorian Health Policy and Funding Guidelines 2014/2015