Health Planning: Australian Perspectives

Health Planning: Australian Perspectives

Health Planning: Australian Perspectives

Health Planning: Australian Perspectives


This book is about health planning, both its theory and its practice. We have written it in the Australian context, although many of the issues we discuss have wider application.

This book has its origins not just in our practical planning experience, but also in our experiences as teachers of health planning. After a fruitless search for a comprehensive text for our students, we decided to take the plunge and write our own.

As three experienced health planners, we have participated in just about all of the processes we describe. But be aware that all three of us are generalist planners. We set out to write a book by planners, for planners and for students of planning. We are not architects, statisticians, economists, political theorists, sociologists or engineers, although we draw on all of these bodies of knowledge.

Readers looking for expert knowledge on specialist issues such as statistics, health economics, hospital design and so on should look elsewhere. Many of the chapters of our book require (and in many cases have) a book or more in their own right to address in detail the issues we have canvassed in just a few pages. For that, we make no apologies. Our interest is in health planning, both as a technical activity and as a way of thinking, and our challenge in writing this book was to draw together and synthesise expertise from many different disciplines.

Likewise, we have chosen to focus on health planning and not on health policy, though we recognise that the two are intertwined. Health policy articulates the values, goals and priorities of the health system, both now and in the future. Health planning is purposeful and focuses on the future. Health planning aims to bring about change, meet a desired objective, or translate health policy into practice.

Planning is essentially about change management, and for the last 30 years planners have been people who have implemented the prevailing reform agenda, whether it be in the expansionary period of the 1970s and 1980s or the contraction and privatisation period that typified much of the 1990s. Planning is a technical activity, but it is also a political process. This is reflected in several themes that run through our text, many of which reflect current tensions and challenges in the Australian health care system:

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