Media Releases and Communiques
Australian Health Ministers’ Conference
Reform of the national health system and developing a new Australian Health Care Agreement were at the top of the agenda when Australian Health Ministers met in Melbourne on 31 January.
PDF printable version of Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (PDF 29 KB)
31 January 2008
Reform of the national health system and developing a new Australian Health Care Agreement were at the top of the agenda when Australian Health Ministers met in Melbourne today.
All Ministers agreed that the forthcoming Australian Health Care Agreement (AHCA) was a major vehicle for reform.
A framework for the next AHCA was discussed and support was given for broadening the current agreement to focus on other aspects of the health system, not just public hospital funding.
This would be facilitated by integrating some of the other funding agreements into a broader AHCA.
There was agreement that the tendency of the previous federal government to treat primary care as separate from hospital care encouraged the ‘blame game’ and put significant pressure on hospitals.
By treating the health system as a whole – in which primary care, preventative care, aged care and hospital care interact – more progress can be made in delivering comprehensive, serious reform, and better patient care.
This could also reduce the current administration around multiple agreements, cutting back on red tape.
As part of AHCA negotiations, all Ministers agreed on the need for a nationally consistent data set to detail key areas of healthcare performance covering service delivery responsibilities of both the Commonwealth and States and Territories.
Further work is needed to identify specifically which performance areas should be included in this data set.
There was robust discussion regarding what the key reform principles to guide early negotiations should be.
An intensive work program will be undertaken by Ministers and senior health department officers from all jurisdictions to ensure a proposed agreement is drafted as soon as possible.
As the new AHCA will be a key vehicle for health reform, the soon-to-be established National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) will play a major role in shaping and finalising the agreement.
All Ministers agreed that many steps had already been taken since last year’s federal election towards reforming and improving the health system.
However, it was noted that close collaboration and co-operation between States and Territories and the Commonwealth must continue if this year’s AHMC priorities are to be achieved within tight timeframes.
It was also noted that Commonwealth Minister Nicola Roxon had recently written to all of her state and territory counterparts inviting them to develop their Stage Two Elective Surgery Waiting List Reduction Plan proposals.
Allocations for the $150 million stage two will take into account the stage one distribution and involve infrastructure funding to achieve greater activity in elective surgery.
Ministers agreed to meet again in Sydney in February.
Joshua Cooney, Queensland Minister Stephen Robertson’s (Chair) office
0409 069 056;
Sean Kelly, Commonwealth Minister Nicola Roxon’s office 0417 108 362
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