Standing Council on Health Communique - 10 August 2012

Australian Health Ministers met in Sydney on 10 August for a meeting of the Standing Council on Health. The meeting was chaired by Dr Kim Hames, WA Minister for Health.

Page last updated: 10 August 2012

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10 August 2012

Australian Health Ministers met in Sydney today for a meeting of the Standing Council on Health (SCoH). The meeting was chaired by Dr Kim Hames, WA Minister for Health.

Dementia the Ninth National Health Priority Area

Health Ministers agreed to designate dementia as the ninth National Health Priority Area which will focus attention and drive collaborative efforts aimed at tackling dementia at national, state and territory and local government levels.

Ministers noted that the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase from around 280,000 people with dementia today to almost one million by 2050. It affects the lives of nearly 1.5 million Australians, including carers, family and friends. By the 2060s spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any health condition.

Early diagnosis has been shown to have significant potential benefits for both the person with dementia and their carers and family including improvements to quality of life and reducing care burden. It is also estimated that a significant reduction in numbers of people with dementia could be achieved by addressing risk factors such as physical inactivity, diet, alcohol use, smoking and body weight.

Recognising dementia as a National Health Priority Area will enhance the development of a new National Framework for Action on Dementia which will contribute to the current and future work undertaken in response to dementia across Australia.

Due to the increased burden of disease and the opportunities to make significant gains in the health status and well-being of people with dementia and their carers and families. Ministers agreed that dementia meets the criteria to be designated as a National Health Priority Area.

Aged Care Reform

Health Ministers noted the importance of links between aged care and the health system and agreed that Ministers responsible for ageing will meet on a regular basis.

It was also agreed that given the importance of ageing and the health system that aged care and matters relating to ageing would be a standing item at the Standing Council on Health meetings.

Professional Indemnity Insurance for Privately Practising Midwives

Ministers agreed to an extension of the professional indemnity insurance exemption for privately practising midwives until June 2015. This will mean that privately practising midwives will continue to be covered by the national registration and accreditation arrangements.

The Commonwealth agreed to vary the determination on collaborative arrangements to enable agreements between midwives and hospital and health services.

Ministers agreed that WA would develop a paper on longer term arrangements and that this would be presented at the November meeting of Ministers.

Medical Intern Placements

Health Ministers noted that the Second Round Offer for medical intern placements is currently underway. In recognising the importance of intern placements Health Ministers are working to develop intern placements in private and other settings.

Progress on the cost of Clinical Trials

Health Ministers endorsed a proposal to alter the work program of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority in order to produce a list of standard costs of items associated with conducting clinical trials in Australia.

This work will help to assess the true cost of clinical trial activity and will be an invaluable guide for clinical trial sponsors and public institutions as they plan for clinical trials into the future.

The move results from a recommendation by the Clinical Trials Action Group (CTAG) to develop a table of standard costs associated with conducting a clinical trial in Australia.

Ministers agreed to implement a national approach to single ethical review of clinical trials with the publicly funded health sectors of each State and Territory. It was agreed that Ministers would aim to implement this by 1 January 2013 with a final date for implementation by 30 June 2013.

Uniform Controls over Poisons Project

Ministers approved the release of a Regulatory Impact Statement for public consultation regarding options to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses dealing with chemicals.

While being careful to ensure that public safety is maintained, Ministers agreed to seek public feedback on options to address specific regulatory controls on poisons imposed by States and Territories including packaging, labelling, storage, disposal, advertising, record-keeping as well as restrictions as to access and use of certain poisons.

The Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) classifies medicines and poisons into Schedules according to risk and includes model provisions and recommendations about controls on medicines and poisons that are intended to be adopted into State and Territory law.

In accordance with COAG’s reform agenda under the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy, the document seeks stakeholder views in relation to proposals to improved national coordination and oversight to achieve an effective and efficient system including the adoption of nationally uniform regulatory controls for poisons.

Oral Health Report

Ministers asked that the roles and scope of practice of dental therapists, oral health therapists and dental hygienists be reviewed. Ministers agreed to release a report prepared by Health Workforce Australia (HWA), entitled Scope of Practice Review: Oral Health Practitioners.

Primary Healthcare Framework

State and Territory Ministers agreed to work with the Commonwealth on the Primary Healthcare Framework particularly addressing the challenges of delivery of primary health care in rural and remote regions.

Media contact: Peta Rule, 0428 923 661 (Dr Kim Hames Office)

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