Australian Health Ministers’ Conference Joint Communiqué - 22 April 2010

Australian Health Ministers from the Commonwealth and all States and Territories met in Perth on 22 April 2010 and discussed a range of health issues including the groundbreaking national health reforms negotiated at COAG this week.

Page last updated: 22 April 2010

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22 April 2010

Australian Health Ministers from the Commonwealth and all States and Territories met in Perth today and discussed a range of health issues including the groundbreaking national health reforms negotiated at COAG this week.

Clinical Training Model for Students

Health Ministers today agreed to a significant expansion of clinical training capacity for health and medical professionals as part of the $1.6 billion health workforce National Partnership agreed by COAG in 2008.

Clinical training is the "on the job" training health and medical professionals undertake as part of their studies. Significant expansion in clinical training capacity - to ensure all health professionals continue to have the highest quality training. Ministers agreed that $496 million in new funding for clinical training available under the National Partnership Agreement will support:

  • growth in clinical training capacity across public and non-government health and aged care sectors to support more students to train in these settings - $359 million
  • An incentive fund to support establishment and start up costs associated with clinical training in underserviced areas and new settings for example, rural and remote areas, primary care, mental health, aged care and private settings - $70 million
  • $67 million recently committed by the Commonwealth government under the Increased Clinical Training Capacity Grants
Health Workforce Australia will shortly be calling for expressions of interest for funding to support in these areas. Health Workforce Australia will be undertaking further consultation with universities, health and aged care services and other training providers to inform them of the funding model and eligibility criteria. The increased funding will be available for the commencement of the 2011 academic year.

National Health Reform Plan

Guaranteed benefits for states

Ministers noted that under the new National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement, the Commonwealth has committed $5.3 billion in new money over the next four years. In addition, the Agreement includes a Commonwealth guarantee of at least an extra $15.6 billion in health funding from 2014-15 to 2019-20 – noting that both these amounts includes a share for Western Australia which has not yet signed the Agreement.

The Commonwealth has guaranteed that each State and Territory will be no worse off and that any GST revenue foregone by States and Territories under this deal is returned to jurisdictions as health funding.

Elective Surgery National Access Guarantee

Ministers discussed the processes for ensuring the delivery of the National Access Guarantee agreed under the Health Reforms to cut waiting times for patients needing elective surgery.

The Commonwealth government has committed $800 million to improve timely access to elective surgery across the country.

By December 2014, a 95% target will apply such that the most urgent patients (Urgency Categories 1 and 2) are treated within clinically recommended times; by December 2015 this target will also apply to Category 3 patients.

Emergency Departments- National four Hour Access Target

As part of the historic reform package action has been agreed to reduce the waiting times for patients in public hospital emergency departments.

The Commonwealth government will invest $500 million for a new National Four Hour Access Target for emergency departments to help states and territories to meet this target. Under this Target patients presenting to an emergency department will be admitted, treated, discharged or referred for further treatment within four hours where clinically appropriate. For Triage Category 1 (critically ill patients requiring immediate attention) the target will commence from 1 January 2011. All triage category patients will be subject to the access target by 1 January 2015.

This investment will be complemented by the Commonwealth by establishing a $250 million capital investment pool to support states and territories to undertake infrastructure projects aimed at providing faster emergency department treatment.

The Western Australian Minister gave a presentation to Ministers today on their progress in moving towards the four hour target in WA.

Other issues discussed included:

National Transmissible Infection and Blood borne Viruses Strategies

Ministers today endorsed five new national strategies for blood borne viruses (BBVs) and sexually transmissible infections (STIs). For the next three years, these documents will guide policies in relation to the prevention, testing, treatment and more in relation to BBVs and STIs. The documents were developed in a spirit of cooperation with significant contributions from community stakeholders, research organisations, medical professionals and state and territory health departments. The five strategies are:
  • The Sixth National HIV Strategy;
  • The First National Hepatitis B Strategy;
  • The Second National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy;
  • The Third National Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Strategy; and
  • The Third National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy.
Implementation Plan for the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010 - 2015

Health Ministers endorsed the Implementation Plan for the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015. The Implementation Plan, which proposes a staged and flexible approach to implementation, will devise a way forward on the complex issues identified in the Strategy and be undertaken within the context of broader health reforms.

The Implementation Plan identifies ten action areas to be progressed by governments both independently and nationally under the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, with ongoing leadership from the Commonwealth. Ten action areas for implementation have been identified based on the goals and objectives set out in the Strategy. The action areas focus on:
  1. monitoring and surveillance;
  2. health professionals’ education and training;
  3. dietary guidelines and growth charts;
  4. breastfeeding friendly environments (including workplaces and child care settings);
  5. support for breastfeeding in health care settings;
  6. revisiting Australia’s response to the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and related World Health Assembly resolutions;
  7. exploring the evidence, quality assurance, cost-effectiveness and regulatory issues associated with the establishment and operation of milk banks;
  8. breastfeeding support for priority groups;
  9. continuity of care, referral pathways and support networks; and
  10. education and awareness, including antenatal education.
Media contacts:
Ruth Awbery, Minister Hill’s Office – Telephone: 0418 259 602
Katie Hall, Minister Roxon’s office – Telephone: 02 6277 7220

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