In recent weeks the Government has made significant progress with its health agenda, which includes health and hospitals reform as well developing a national preventative health strategy.
Health and Hospitals Reform
National Health and Hospitals Network
On 3rd March 2010, the Government announced significant structural reforms to the health and hospitals system following detailed consideration of the report of the National Health & Hospitals Reform Commission.
Essentially, the Government is proposing to establish a single, national network of hospitals which will be funded by the Commonwealth but run locally. The Government intends to take over 60 per cent of funding responsibility for public hospitals by investing one third of GST revenue directly in health programs and hospitals rather than the current arrangement of paying this money to State and Territory Governments. The Council of Australian Governments will meet on 11th April 2010 to discuss the proposed reforms.
Further detail is available at http://www.yourhealth.gov.au/internet/yourhealth/publishing.nsf/content/home.
The Prime Minister’s Media Release is available at http://www.pm.gov.au/node/6535.
Investing in the Health Workforce
On 15th March 2010, the Government announced a $632 million investment over the forward estimates to train:
· 5,500 additional General Practitioners;
· 680 additional medical specialists; and
· 5,400 pre-vocational general practice program (PGPPP) students.
This announcement builds on the Government's commitment to permanently fund 60 per cent of teaching and research in public hospitals as part of the new funding arrangements under the National Health and Hospital Network.
The Prime Minister’s Media Release is available at http://www.pm.gov.au/node/6568.
Care for Diabetics
On 31st March 2010, the Prime Minister announced new arrangements for patients living with diabetes. Diabetes is a long-term illness suffered by around one million people in Australia who are often treated in hospitals. The Government has announced that people will now be able to sign up with a General Practice (GP) clinic of their choice that will be responsible for managing their care through a personalised plan. The GP clinics will be rewarded with $1,200 payments for every enrolled patient to cover costs, as well as performance payments of around $10,800 a year for the average practice for achieving better care and health outcomes.
This $436 million investment is aimed at taking pressure of hospitals and is consistent with the aims of the National Health and Hospitals Network.
The Prime Minister’s media release is available at http://www.pm.gov.au/node/6610
National Preventative Health Strategy
The National Preventative Health Taskforce spent over a year developing their recommendations for a National Preventative Health Strategy.
The report – Australia: The healthiest country by 2020 – was released in September 2009, and provided targets and measures to tackle the health challenges of tobacco use, alcohol consumption and obesity. Further detail about the report is available in Hawker Britton’s paper available at http://www.hawkerbritton.com/hawker-britton-media/federal-act/preventative-health-taskforce-report-national-preventative-health-strategy.html.
This paper will be updated continually, as further announcements are expected in the coming weeks.