A safe, high quality health system

Maintaining high standards of safety in every aspect of health and medical services is critical to Australia’s health system.

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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8 May 2007
ABB 56/07

Maintaining high standards of safety in every aspect of health and medical services is critical to Australia’s health system.

New technologies and new health challenges mean that these standards must be constantly evaluated and refined. The Budget contains new funding of over $39 million for initiatives to update and improve safety and quality systems in health and medical research, treatment and regulation of products.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Reform – software support

As part of the PBS Reform package, the Government will provide new funding of $17.9 million to ensure that pharmacy software vendors are able to manage the increased demand for access to PBS Online via their dispensing software.

PBS Online provides a real-time interface with Medicare Australia and enables pharmacies to process PBS scripts with greater certainty, providing streamlined online claiming and claim verification. This will help ensure consumers are aware of their concessional status and that they will receive the benefits they are entitled to when filling their PBS prescriptions.

Professional Services Review – continuation of funding

The Professional Services Review (PSR) Scheme provides a mechanism of peer review for investigating possible cases of inappropriate practice by health practitioners under Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). It is a key element in protecting the integrity of Medicare and the PBS.

The Budget provides $12.9 million over four years to enable the PSR – the independent agency that administers the PSR Scheme – to continue to implement arrangements arising from the 1999 review of the Scheme.

Since the 1999 review, the PSR Scheme has produced savings to Medicare in sanctions and in Medicare benefits not paid due to disqualification of practitioners. Sixty-three practitioners have been fully disqualified for specified periods from the Medicare benefits arrangements.

Health and medical research – streamlining human research ethics reviews

Research involving humans must be approved by Human Research Ethics Committees. However, when human research takes place at multiple sites, the current system of approval is unwieldy and may slow down the start of research.

For example, when a clinical trial is proposed to take place at several different hospitals, approval must often be obtained from the Ethics Committee at each hospital before the trial can proceed.

The Commonwealth Government will provide $5.6 million over four years for the National Health and Medical Research Council to establish a national single review system for multi-centre research projects, together with states and territories.

Gynaecological cancer centre – establishment

A new Centre for Gynaecological Cancer will be established within the Government’s national cancer agency, Cancer Australia. Cancer Australia will undertake an early assessment of existing gynaecological cancer services and provide a national focus to gynaecological cancer issues.

The Government will provide $1.0 million for the new centre, which will work closely with relevant stakeholders and experts, including the National Breast Cancer Centre.

National Joint Replacement Registry – increased data collection

Funding of $0.8 million over four years will be provided to expand the role of the National Joint Replacement Registry to include accurate records on surgery for ankles, shoulders, wrists and spinal disc replacements and their effectiveness.

Surgery to replace joints is essential for the quality of life of many Australians. Up to 70,000 will have this surgery in 2007-08. Different procedures and implants work better in different situations. For example, someone who sustains a sports injury might require a different joint replacement to an older person who has broken their hip in a fall.

The Registry will help surgeons make better clinical choices about the most appropriate joint replacements for their patients.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand – continue and increase funding

Additional funding of $12.7 million over four years will be provided to Food Standards Australia New Zealand to enable it to develop new standards to respond to new technologies, support food industry innovation, and improve its scientific evidence base.

It will deliver more sophisticated food standards more quickly to deal with new and emerging food hazards and risks to consumers.

Radiation in health care – safer and better use

The Government will provide $9.0 million over four years to improve information and training available to medical professionals. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) will consult with professional bodies and regulators on best practice training for radiographers, radio-oncologists and medical physicists.

Media Contact: Claire Kimball 0413 486 926

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