COAG urged to reach agreement on Australian health reform

18:42, April 19, 2010      

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The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting provides a rare opportunity for Australian governments to make major structural changes to the health system.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) on Monday called on all participants at COAG not to waste this rare chance and reach an agreement on national health reform.

"The Australian community deserves an agreement at the COAG meeting that ensures a sustainable future for the Australian public healthcare system and our public hospitals cannot afford for the politicians to get it wrong," said Prue Power, AHHA Executive Director.

"If COAG members vote yes to the proposal Australia will have a chance to achieve AHHA's vision of effective national standards coupled with significant regional influence and control over health delivery programs. It is based on the fact that real improvement in health care occurs at the coalface and not at either the state or federal level," she told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

Power said it will represent a major structural change in the way in which health care is funded and delivered in Australia.

"It will introduce national standards for measuring and assessing hospitals performance and increase the transparency and accountability of health care funding.

"The establishment of the proposed hospitals network will also allow for greater flexibility of funding at the local level and increased stakeholder involvement in the planning and delivery of local services."

However, she said if COAG members vote no to the agreement it will set back the reform process.

Power noted the structure of Australia's health system has not changed significantly since the 1970s and does not meet the current health care needs of the Australian community.

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