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Catholic Health issues urgent call for on health reform

Catholic Health Australia has issued a joint statement with the Australian Healthcare Association calling on State and Federal leaders to keep alive the option of reforming the health system when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meets today.

The deadline for the expiry of the current Australian Health Care Agreements is Suday. If this passes without a resolution to implement a process of reform, State and Federal Governments will have passed up an historic opportunity to build a platform for improved services and access to the health system for all Australians, they said.

The AHA and CHA, along with other peak health bodies, have called for an interim Agreement to be signed, with the State and Federal Governments committing to a comprehensive reform agenda to be carried out by a new Australian Health Reform Council.

CHA Executive Director Francis Sullivan said it is crucial that the "political theatre" currently being played out between the State and Federal Governments stop, and that they get on with the more challenging task of actually improving our health system.

"The question of whether this gets discussed at COAG will become moot if there if there is no commitment to getting the reform agenda back on track," he said.

"An Australian Health Reform Council, made up of government, industry and consumers, could allow a new kind of collaboration to more efficiently structure the health system," said Mr Sullivan.

Reforms proposed included better integrating the range of services provided across the Australian health system, so that patients can more easily move from hospital settings, to primary care, community care, diagnostics, dental and access to pharmaceuticals without disruption to their continuity of care.

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29 Aug 2003