National health reform finalised
TUE 02 AUGUST 2011
Prime Minister, Minister for Health and Ageing
The Gillard Government today signed off on the final details of national health reforms with all States and Territories to secure the future of health in Australia.
This historic agreement will deliver the funding public hospitals need, with unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability, less waste and significantly less waiting for patients.
The reforms, agreed to by COAG in February and finalised today, will see the Australian Government invest an extra $19.8 billion in public hospitals through to 2019-20, rising to a total extra $175 billion to 2029-30.
This extra Commonwealth funding will mean our hospitals will be able to take on millions of extra services that would never have been possible under the old arrangements including:
- 2.9 million extra cases in our emergency departments
- 2 million additional in-patient services, such as major surgery or treatment for severe conditions such as kidney failure or a heart attack
- 19 million more outpatient consultations, such as minor surgery or physiotherapy.
Over the last decade the Commonwealth’s share of public hospital funding has been in sustained decline, and States and Territories have had to enter negotiations over health funding with the Commonwealth every five years.
Today’s agreement permanently puts an end to the uncertainty of public hospital funding. It is money the States – and Australian patients - can depend on.
Specifically, the agreement will deliver:
Faster access to emergency department and elective surgery procedures, through the establishment of:
- A 4-hour target for emergency waiting times, with the aim that 90 per cent of patients across all triage categories are seen within four hours.
- A 100 per cent elective surgery target, aimed at ensuring all patients waiting for elective surgery are treated within clinically recommended times.
- Less waste with hospitals funded for what they actually deliver.
- Greater local control of hospitals.
- Unprecedented new levels of public reporting on health services and expenditure for every hospital in Australia.
The Australian Government will step up to permanently pay for 45 per cent of growth in hospital services in 2014-15, increasing to 50 per cent in 2017-18.
This means the Commonwealth and States and Territories will share future funding growth for hospitals in an equal partnership.
In fundamentally changing the way that governments pay for hospital services, the final agreement is the biggest change to public hospital financing since the introduction of Medibank and its successor Medicare.
Less Waiting and Millions of Extra Patient Services
Under the final agreement reached today the Commonwealth will provide at least an additional $19.8 billion to 2019-20, supporting millions of additional hospital services.
Over $1 billion of this has already been provided to States and Territories – resulting in new beds and services already being rolled out around the country.
States and Territories have agreed to open new hospital beds and work towards tough new national targets for elective surgery and emergency departments.
In 2009-10, 16 per cent of the 606,255 elective surgeries performed in Australia were not carried out within clinically recommended times. Under the final deal reached today, the States and Territories will work to ensure that by 2016 everyone needing surgery will have their operation within a clinically appropriate time.
Similarly, in emergency departments, 36 per cent wait more than four hours. In this final agreement, the States and Territories will work to ensure that 90 per cent of all patients presenting to an Emergency Department in a major public hospital will receive all necessary care or have been admitted to hospital within four hours by 2015.
Less waste and increased transparency and accountability
In exchange for improved funding arrangements, states and territories have agreed to unprecedented transparency in our health care system.
The new National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) will ensure that Australians can access accurate and up to date information on the MyHospitals website about how their hospitals perform so they can choose the best care.
Australians will also have access to greater information about their primary health care system through healthy community reports.
To improve the transparency of public hospital funding a single National Health Funding Pool will be established.
The Administrator of the pool will report on Commonwealth and State funding flowing through the pool and the services delivered by this funding.
This will ensure that all hospitals are funded under the same arrangements, allowing all Australians to clearly see where and how their tax dollars are being spent.
A new Independent Hospital Pricing Authority will set the national price for public hospital services and will develop a national activity-based funding system.
This will ensure that public hospitals are properly funded for each and every service that they provide, based on a fair price. It will also mean much greater efficiency in hospital funding than ever before – no more blank cheques.
New Local Hospital Networks will ensure decisions about hospital management are devolved to the local level. In addition, local clinicians will be engaged to advise about patient pathways which best meet the needs of the local community.
Improving GP, Primary Health Care and Aged Care
The Gillard Government’s new investments in hospitals are being supported by significant Commonwealth investments in primary health care services – including after hours services, new GP training places, and new GP Super Clinics – to help take pressure off public hospitals.
New Medicare Locals will support the day-to-day delivery of better integrated GP and primary health care services in the community ensuring more patients can get the care that they need in the right settings.
Reforms to aged care will see the Commonwealth becoming directly responsible for funding basic community care in most States and Territories for people aged 65 and over, in addition to its existing responsibility for community aged care packages and residential aged care.
This will enable simplified access to a wider range of care for older people. The reforms also ensure clearer lines of accountability for care of younger people with disabilities and older people requiring care.
More information on this announcement is available at www.yourhealth.gov.au.