Australian gov't finalizes health reform deal with states and territories

10:15, August 02, 2011      

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All states and territories of Australia on Tuesday signed up to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's national health reforms.

Under the deal, the commonwealth will fund up to 50 percent of rising public hospital costs from 2014-15, meaning that all states will receive an extra 18 billion U.S. dollars in the first six years of the reforms.

"What this new deal means, put simply is more money, more beds, more services, more local control, greater accountability, less waste and less waiting times around the nation," Gillard told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said she is relieved and glad the government has finalized the 192 billion U.S. dollars deal.

The deal specifies that 90 percent of all patients presenting to a hospital emergency department must be seen within four hours, a change from an earlier target of 95 percent that applied to only a selective group of patients.

There also is a new target for elective surgery waiting lists with 100 percent of patients' treatment delivered on time.

Gillard said under the original deal, it had been 95 percent with the remaining five percent to be referred to private hospitals.

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