The Federal and State and Territory Health Ministers recently met in Darwin at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues. The meeting was chaired by Jack Snelling, Minister for Health, South Australia.
More information can be found on the COAG website
Major items discussed included:
1.Reform of the Federation
Council discussed the progress of work on the Reform of the Federation and the outcome of the consideration of health issues at the Leaders’ Retreat in July. Noting that further work for COAG’s consideration later in the year will be led by Tasmania and Victoria, Ministers agreed to work co-operatively in considering options for improving the efficiency of the health system, particularly in the provision of care for people with chronic disease and extending Medicare benefit arrangements to hospitals based on efficient pricing. Council noted that future arrangements for health financing would be considered in the context of the Reform of the Federation.
2.Impact of discontinued National Partnership Agreements (NPAs) on states and territories
Ministers noted that between 2008–09 and 2013–14 the Commonwealth provided an average of $1.7 billion per year to States and Territories under a range of National Partnership Agreements which are now concluded.
The Council agreed that, in consultation with all jurisdictions, they would explore new models for sufficient health and hospital funding as part of the broader discussion around the reform of federation.
3.Changes to eHealth Records
Ministers discussed proposed changes by the Australian Government to eHealth legislation to support delivery of the My Health Record and the establishment of the eHealth Commission. The amendments are aimed at bringing forward the benefits of a connected national eHealth system, aimed at providing improved health outcomes for consumers through national sharing of information and a more efficient health system.
Included in the draft legislation will be the implementation of the opt-out trials, to be conducted in some states and territories where participants will automatically receive an eHealth record unless they choose to opt out if they do not wish to have one. Under present arrangements, people have to specifically enrol to receive an eHealth record. Ministers were invited to nominate potential trial sites.
4. ICE – An opportunity for national collaboration
Noting the scope of the National Ice Taskforce, Health Ministers discussed the impact of this drug on the community and health workers confronting the aggressive behaviours associated with Ice. Ministers discussed other issues of shared interest and identified opportunities for health departments to enhance the effectiveness of responses to the harms associated with ice use amongst individuals, families and communities.
It was agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) would progress where appropriate, joint work and sharing of resources such as clinical guidelines, tools, training and local strategies to strengthen current health responses.
5.Healthy, Safe and Thriving: National Strategic Framework for Child and Youth Health
Ministers endorsed the Healthy, Safe and Thriving: National Strategic Framework for Child and Youth Health (the Framework) and its two supporting reference documents. Building on the achievements in child and youth health over the past 20 years, the Framework identifies continuing and emerging health issues for children and young people from preconception to 24 years of age. The Framework articulates a shared national vision with five key strategic priorities to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for children and youth in Australia over the next ten years.
6.National Framework for Action on Dementia
Ministers endorsed the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019, which aims to guide the development and implementation of policies, plans and actions to reduce the risk of dementia and improve the outcomes for people with dementia and their carers. The Framework will support ongoing policy development and action for governments, peak bodies, service providers, and the broader community, to work together in order to make a positive difference in the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families.
7.National Oral Health Plan 2015–2024
Oral health is an important part of general health, affecting not only the individual, but also the broader health system and economy.
Ministers considered and endorsed the new National Oral Health Plan 2015-2024, which provides strategic direction and a framework for collaborative action over the next ten years. Translation of the plan into practice requires jurisdictions and sectors to work together, with the Oral Health Monitoring Group reporting on progress of the National Oral Health Plan every two years.
8.National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
Ministers discussed the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to full implementation of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program for people age 50-74 by 2020.
Ministers discussed their ongoing commitment to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, the importance of continually improving the effectiveness of the Program; the Commonwealth’s new investments in the national Cancer Screening Register; the importance of improving Program participation; the role of endoscopy in early diagnosis and the clear benefits of early treatment to patients and the health system as whole.
9.The relationship between welfare reform and health outcomes
In discussing this issue the Council noted the concern that the Northern Territory (NT) has in relation to the direct health effects that passive welfare has on Territorians.
The Ministers agreed that the NT would endeavour to provide further evidence of any possible link between passive welfare and poor health outcome to a future meeting.
10.Inclusion of Paramedics in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
In the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council today Ministers discussed the potential registration of paramedics under a national scheme. This issue has been referred back to AHMAC for further work and advice back to Ministers.