Australian Health Ministers met today in Canberra to discuss a number of key health issues:
Earlier in the year the Federal Government provided $150 million in additional funding to urgently undertake 25,000 additional procedures for people waiting longer than clinically recommended for elective surgery. Health Ministers today reported that 55% of this target has been met with approximately 14,000 additional patients receiving elective surgery in 6 months. This is an achievement they attributed to cooperation between the Federal and State governments.
Monitoring growth in demand
The Ministers discussed funding arrangements under the new Australian Health Care Agreements, which are bilateral five-year agreements between the Australian Government and each state and territory for public hospital services. For funding purposes it is necessary to accurately gauge the growth in demand for such services, and the Ministers agreed that more work would need to be undertaken to determine the complex factors affecting demand, and the most effective way to monitor growth.
Improving quality care
- Charter of Patient Rights- Ministers agreed that a single Charter will be identified to establish a minimum set of standards including rights, expectations and entitlements that will be uniformly applied across all states and territories.
- Hospital Patient ID cards- Ministers agreed to adopt a national standard patient identification band for use by public and private health services.
- Cosmetic Surgery standards- Ministers voiced concern about the lack of standards in this emerging field, and agreed to further investigate stronger regulations.
- Accountability- Ministers emphasised that a strong national system of health service accountability would be critical to inform the new Australian Heath Care Agreement.
- Mental Health – Ministers agreed to the development of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan, including consultation with experts before a forum in NSW at the end of August 2008.
The next meeting will be on 28 November 2008 in Brisbane.