Nursing Online – May 2010

Battle continues over health reforms.

It’s hard to know how much is just political theatre, but it appears the Premiers, particularly Brumby in Victoria and Keneally in NSW, drove a hard bargain during the recent COAG health reform talks. While Western Australia has remained resolute in its opposition to the financial arrangements in the scheme, the rest of Australia has signed up for a proposal that should result in some major changes for many nurses and midwives. This month Nursing Research Online covers some of the latest developments in the health reform discussion.

A National Health and Hospitals Network: Further Investments In Australia’s Health
Commonwealth of Australia, 2010

This document outlines the next stage of our health reforms to deliver substantial improvements in the quality and availability of health care for Australians. The Government proposals include a guarantee that elective surgery will be performed within the recommended clinical timeframe, the four-hour national access targets will be established in Emergency Departments, the Government will pay for better health outcomes rather than merely fee-for-service through plans for individualised diabetes case management, and the Government will assume full responsibility for aged care in Australia.

The National Health Debate
ABC News, Tuesday, 23rd March 2010, National Press Club

Watch the entire health debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony

Rudd’s Health Reforms: More Politics Than Policy
Jennifer Doggett, 20 April 2010

Kevin Rudd might well be wondering after a two-day long COAG meeting if he should have been careful what he wished for. Having gained a hard-fought agreement with the states (with the exception of WA) on health reform, his Government now has to move onto the more difficult task of ensuring that his proposed reforms actually deliver (and are seen to deliver) better health care in the complex and high-profile area of public hospitals. While there may be some benefits to the plan – principally the imposition of a nationally consistent funding system and more transparent reporting and standards – there are also some serious potential disadvantages.

Panel Picks Apart The Prime Minsiter’s Plan
The World Today, ABC News, 21 April

The World Today is a comprehensive current affairs program that backgrounds, analyses, interprets and encourages debate on events and issues of interest and importance to all Australians. Panellists providing input into this discussion included three experts with a range of perspectives on the issue: Professor John Dwyer (Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales), Prue Power (Executive Director of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association) and Dr Sally McCarthy, who is head of emergency at the Prince of Wales Hospital and the President of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine – an area of care that was a major focus of the negotiations between the Premiers and the Prime Minister.

Australian Health Ministers’ Conference
22 April 2010, Joint Communiqué

Australian Health Ministers from the Commonwealth and all States and Territories met in Perth and discussed a range of health issues including the groundbreaking national health reforms negotiated at COAG. 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 2014-2015 to 2019-2020 – noting that both these amounts include 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.