Media Releases and Communiques
Australian Health Ministers' Conference - Main Communique
Health Ministers met in Brisbane to discuss a range of priority health issues including Remote Area Renal Services, National Health Call Centres, Pandemic Influenza, Childhood Obesity, Quality and Safety, and a range of Health Workforce issues.
PDF printable version of Australian Health Ministers' Conference - Main Communique (PDF 46 KB)
27 July 2006
Health Ministers met in Brisbane today to discuss a range of priority health issues including Remote Area Renal Services, National Health Call Centres, Pandemic Influenza, Childhood Obesity, Quality and Safety, and a range of Health Workforce issues.
Reducing Childhood Obesity: Options for Restricting TV Advertising of Food and Drink to ChildrenMinisters welcomed the industry preparedness to work collaboratively and State and Territory Ministers agreed to establish a working party to examine relevant regulatory codes in conjunction with industry with a view to reviewing marketing and advertising practices.
National Health Call Centre NetworkMinisters today agreed to progress the creation of a National Call Centre Network (NHCCN) with the aim of shortly being able to announce the establishment of the NHCCN Company, in keeping with the timeframe set by COAG for Company establishment in August 2006.
Following the signing of the Heads of Agreement at the February COAG meeting, all jurisdictions have been working collaboratively through the AHMAC Senior Officials Group, to implement the national network.
An early task for the Senior Officials Group is to scope the Mental Health component of the NHCCN, which was also announced at COAG. The Senior Officials Group has appointed at Mental Health Sub-group, chaired by NSW, to assist in defining the scope of work necessary to fulfil this role. The sub-group has engaged consultants with a specific mental health focus to explore the views of jurisdictions. Results will be reported to AHMC for agreement on a way forward. South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth signed the Agreement to establish a National Health Call Centre Network.
National Reform agenda on organ and tissue donation:Minister endorsed a national reform agenda on organ and tissue donation to help increase the rate of safe, effective and ethical organ and tissue donation for transplantation in Australia.
The national reform agenda will be led by the Australian Government and will involve working in close cooperation with state and territory governments through the AHMAC Inter-governmental Committee on Organ and Tissue Donation and implementing the specific initiatives announced in the 2006 federal Budget, under the national reform agenda banner.
Ministers welcomed the establishment of a new national expert taskforce of clinicians and specialists to be chaired by Professor Jeremy Chapman OAM.
Safety and Quality in Health CareHealth Ministers today endorsed further appointments to the new Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care and work that is in train to bring together the early operations and to formulate the five year work program of the Commission. Ministers noted that the Commission’s work program was being developed in consultation with key stakeholders and that formal linkages would be established between the Commission and key stakeholders as a critical component in providing high quality advice to the Commission,
Ministers endorsed the appointment of Mr Richard Bowden, who has joined the Commission with significant private health insurance experience and is currently the managing director of private health insurer, BUPA Australia, which operates as HBA and Mutual Community.
In addition, Ms Uschi Schreiber, Director-General, Queensland Health, has been appointed to the Commission to replace Mr Jim Birch, former Chief Executive, Department of Health South Australia, who recently resigned from the public sector.
Electronic Prescribing and Dispensing of Medicines.Australians are set to receive improved healthcare following agreement today by all Australian Health Ministers to remove the legislative barriers to electronic prescribing and dispensing of medicines.
From 1 March 2007 the amendments will allow for all stages of the prescribing process to be completed electronically and provide an alternative to the present paper prescriptions system. Scripts will be able to be initiated electronically by prescribers, electronically signed, then transmitted securely and uploaded into the dispenser’s system without the need for re-keying. This will ease the burden created by paper-based prescription processes and allow healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients and their needs.
There are an estimated 400,000 adverse drug incidents that occur in Australia each year according to the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care's Second National Report on Patient Safety. Electronic prescribing and dispensing will help eliminate those incidents that occur due to poorly handwritten paper prescriptions and transcription errors.
The regulatory amendments to provide for electronic prescribing and dispensing will become effective on 1 March 2007. This gives all States and Territories sufficient time to make their own consistent legislative and regulatory amendments.
Surgical Training PlacesFollowing a presentation by ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, Ministers agreed that AHMC will write to the ACCC advising that States and Territories wish to determine the numbers of surgical training places for States and Territories.
Remote Area Renal ServicesHealth Ministers today endorsed the third and final phase of the Remote Area Renal Services for Indigenous Australians project which has focused on the development of national service guidelines for the management of dialysis and kidney transplantation for Indigenous Australians living in remote Australia. They are the first Australian guidelines developed to address clinical care, as well as a holistic approach to manage end stage kidney disease, including client and family education and support and cultural security.
The guidelines aim to have a positive impact on the quality of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receiving renal replacement therapies and their families and also are applicable to the broader rural and remote Australian population requiring renal replacement therapies.
Oral HealthState and Territory Ministers agreed that recruitment and retention of the oral health workforce continues to be problematic especially in regional and rural areas. State and Territory Ministers agreed to request the Australian Government to introduce a range of initiatives including:
- Identifying if the requirement of 300 additional graduates will be achieved by January 2007 as outlined in the National Oral Health Plan.
- Ensuring that 90 per cent of fee paying students are domestic
- Extending scholarships and cadetships for oral health practitioners and introducing bonded dental places of areas of workforce shortage.
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