Australian Health Ministers’ Conference Joint Communiqué

Australian Health Ministers met in Adelaide for the Australian Health Ministers Conference, chaired by The Hon John Hill, SA Minister for Health.

Page last updated: 12 November 2010

PDF printable version of Australian Health Ministers’ Conference Joint Communiqué (PDF 35 KB)

12 November 2010

MyHospital website

Ministers agreed that the MyHospital website will go live in mid December 2010. Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, acknowledged the contribution that all state and territory Health Ministers had made to the project by agreeing to share their hospital data to enable the public to make informed choices about their health care.

MyHospital will be the first website to provide consolidated information on Australian Hospitals – that will be nationally consistent and comparable. It will begin with information about bed numbers, clinical staffing numbers, waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department care but will be expanded over time to include other important information like a hospital's record on quality and safety.

Quality and Safety in health care

A major focus of today's meeting was on a quality and safety in healthcare with Ministers acknowledging that legislation to establish the permanent Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care had been recently introduced in the Federal parliament and passed by the House of Representatives.

Ministers restated a commitment to continuing to improve quality and safety standards in Australian hospitals and health care settings, and approved an implementation strategy proposed to promote the use of the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Health Care, produced by the NHMRC - a key component in the national effort to control healthcare associated infections.

Ministers also noted a report from the Commission on progress of the National Hand Hygiene Initiative – a key strategy in the fight against the spread of virulent micro-organisms in hospitals:
  • 477 hospitals around the country are now involved in this project;
  • Over 100,000 health care workers have completed training in hand hygiene under this initiative.
Ministers approved an open disclosure mechanism which is aimed at assisting patients in gaining information when things go wrong in healthcare, to be used in Australian hospitals.

The permanent establishment of the independent Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care will further develop and enhance measures in Quality and Safety.

Australian National Maternity Services Plan

Health Ministers today endorsed the Australian National Maternity Services Plan. The Plan sets out – for the first time – a nationally consistent approach to the development and delivery of maternity services in Australia. The Plan outlines major areas of action to improve women’s access to services and service delivery while building the workforce and strengthening infrastructure.

The Plan builds on the Commonwealth’s expansion of Medicare and PBS funding to eligible midwives for the first time, from 1 November this year.

Under the Plan, state and territory governments have agreed to:
  • increase women’s access to midwifery-managed models of care for normal risk women whilst maintaining support for choice of and access to medically managed models of care;
  • implement mechanisms to increase access to public antenatal care in local community settings and community-based care in remote locations;
  • propose amendments to relevant legislation to facilitate endorsed midwives accessing prescribing rights through the PBS.
States and territories have agreed to report against national maternity services indicators and to adopt a national woman-held pregnancy record to complement the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system.

English language skills registration standard for nursing and midwifery

Ministers welcomed the revised standard from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia for english language competency for nurses who have undertaken tertiary education in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Recognition of overseas specialist qualifications

Minsters noted issues of concern relating to the registration requirements of Medical Specialist Colleges in relation to the recognition and management of International Medical Graduates, particularly those from countries with health care systems similar to Australia.

Ministers agreed to refer this matter to the Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council for independent advice to Ministers regarding the assessment requirements for registration with each of the Medical Specialist Colleges.

Reducing intake of some ingredients in fast foods

Ministers supported the development to a national approach to reduce intakes of energy, saturated fat, sugar and salt from fast foods and the provision of point of sale dietary information and sought advice from the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, Food Regulations Standing Committee and Australian New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council.

Health Reform

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to working collaboratively on health reform. Ministers noted the considerable activity underway to progress the health reform agenda including:
  • the consultation process underway with regards to roles, functions, boundaries and governance arrangements for Medicare Locals
  • Progress towards finalising boundaries for Local Hospital Networks;
  • Progress on federal legislation including the introduction of the Federal Financial Relations Amendment (National Health and Hospitals Network) Bill into the parliament, and the passage of legislation to establish a permanent Safety and Quality Commission and the National Preventative Health Agency through the House of Representatives.
The Ministers also noted the work underway by officials leading to the establishment of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority and the National Performance Authority from July 2011, leading to greater efficiency and performance accountability in the health system.

Implementation Strategy for the Fourth National Mental Health Plan

Ministers agreed the Implementation Strategy for the Fourth National Mental Health Plan which outlines a collaborative, national approach to how the actions in the Plan will be progressed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

Media contact: Ruth Awbery (Minister Hill) – 0428 822 114
Paul Perry (Minister Roxon) – 0427 249 435

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