Media release

PM’s COAG health deal gets health reform back on track

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the COAG health deal that the Prime Minister will take to COAG on Sunday contains sufficient positive elements to get much-needed health reform back on track.

Dr Pesce said that the deal is still light in detail in key areas such as Medicare Locals, but the introduction of a single National Funding Pool, a commitment to local control, and a greater decision-making role for clinicians are very welcome changes.

“It is vital that the funding from the national pool goes directly to Local Hospital Networks (LHNs) and does not end up in State Treasuries,” Dr Pesce said.

“Overall funding must also accommodate clinical demand and the local circumstances of the workforce.

“The funding formula and ongoing levels of contributions from all governments must be locked in and the pool must be administered simply with the funding going as directly as possible to the local services with an absolute minimum of bureaucracy.

“We welcome the increase in the number of Medicare Locals to make them more local, but more detail is needed about the management of Medicare Locals and how they will interact efficiently with the LHNs.

“It is vital that Medicare Locals do not negatively impact in any way on GPs and the services that GPs are currently providing to their patients and communities.  They must not divert patients or funding away from general practices.

“The Prime Minister has recognised the importance of local control of hospital services and the value of clinician input into hospital decision-making.

“We hope the States all move quickly to reorganise their hospital governance arrangements.  To date, New South Wales is the only State where the necessary framework has been put in place, with full consultation with clinicians, and this would be a good model to follow.

“It is also vital that LHNs and Medicare Locals become properly integrated so that primary care and hospital care are able to evolve efficient high-quality services that don’t start and stop at the door of the GP surgery or public hospital.

“This deal has the potential to restart the health reform process.  We will watch the outcomes of Sunday’s COAG negotiations with interest.  It is important that the health needs of all Australians are put ahead of the traditional health blame game between the Commonwealth and the States.  It is time for our political leaders to lead and take responsibility for meaningful health reform.”


11 February 2011


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