COAG urged to reach agreement on Australian health reform (2)

18:43, April 19, 2010      

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Key problems include the division of funding and service delivery responsibilities between Commonwealth and State/Territory governments which results in gaps and duplication of services: poor integration between sectors; as well as lack of transparency and accountability.

"Workforce shortages in most areas of the health system, including medical, nursing and allied health. This is compounded by a mal-distribution of health care workers resulting in shortages in many areas, in particular rural and remote communities.

"There is a lack of focus on primary care and prevention. This results in health problems becoming more serious and increases demand for public hospitals," she said.

Power said some of the major environmental trends which are increasing demand for health care and drive the need for reform.

"Australia has an ageing population that is increasing demand for many services such as community-based care, rehabilitation and step-down (i.e. transition from hospital to home) facilities. Our current system cannot meet demand for these services today and is not equipped to cope with higher demands in the future.

"E-health and other developments in technology are changing the way in which health care is delivered and driving up overall health care costs. New pharmaceuticals and medical treatments are delivering a greater choice of treatment options which offer increasingly smaller health gains at higher costs."

The meeting between Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the premiers on a new health plan has broken up for the day and the talks remain deadlocked. The COAG meeting will resume on Tuesday.

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