Under National Health Reform, the Australian Government will support people needing health services by:
- providing more hospital beds;
- reducing public hospital waiting times;
- making Australia’s biggest single investment in health infrastructure; and
- improving how hospitals are funded and managed.
More hospital bedsMany older Australians are unable to access sub-acute care services in their community, and so are unnecessarily admitted to hospital. Sub-acute care, which includes rehabilitation, palliative care, mental health and geriatric services, in both hospitals and the community, can play an important role in improving health outcomes for many patients.
Under National Health Reform, the Australian Government will provide $1.6 billion in capital and recurrent funding for the state and territory governments to operate 1,316 new sub-acute care beds nationally by 2013-2014.
This will improve access to sub-acute care for patients in need, and reduce the pressure on public hospitals.
Shorter public hospital waiting times
Emergency departmentsThe Government is investing $750 million to improve performance in public hospital emergency departments (EDs) under the National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) under the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services.
Under the NEAT, 90% of all patients presenting to a public hospital ED will either physically leave the ED for admission to hospital, be referred to another hospital for treatment, or be discharged within four hours. This is to be achieved through stepped improvements by 2015.
The NEAT replaced the four-hour National Access Target for EDs, which was to have commenced on 1 January 2011 and required 95% of patients to be seen within four hours where clinically appropriate (with staged implementation by triage category by 2015). This followed the recommendations of the Expert Panel, which the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) commissioned to review the implementation of the target over the life of the NPA.
Elective surgeryMany public patients in Australia wait longer than is clinically recommended to have elective surgery. The Australian Government is providing up to $650 million for improvements in access to elective surgery. The objective of the National Elective Surgery Target (NEST) is to progressively increase the number of elective surgeries performed so that 100% of patients receive their elective surgery within the clinically recommended time by 2016. Two complementary strategies are required in order to reach the NEST:
Part 1: A stepped improvement in the number of patients treated within the clinically recommended time; and
Part 2: A progressive reduction in the number of patients who are overdue for surgery, particularly patients who have waited the longest beyond the clinically recommended time.
To help hospitals provide high quality elective surgery, the Government is also investing $150 million in capital funding over three years to improve elective surgery infrastructure, including upgrades to surgery and day surgery centres and the purchase of new surgical equipment.
Investing in Australia’s health infrastructureThe Australian Government has committed to funding some 150 projects, in every state and territory through the Health and Hospitals Fund with the objectives of:
- investing in major health infrastructure programs that will make significant progress towards achieving the Commonwealth’s health reform targets; and
- making strategic investments in the health system that will underpin major improvements in efficiency, access or outcomes of health care.
Better funding and managing hospitalsThe Government and states and territories have also agreed on major reforms to how Australian hospitals are funded under the National Health Reform Agreement. This agreement includes equal share in meeting the growing costs of the public hospital system.
The Australian Government will now pay 50 per cent of the efficient growth funding in public hospital costs in two stages – increasing to 45 per cent from 2014-15 and then to 50 per cent in 2017-18.
Local Hospital Networks are being established across the country to take the management of public hospitals to the local level. The Networks will be made up of a small group of hospitals working together to provide hospital services and manage their own budgets.
Local Hospital Networks will be:
- Run locally;
- Funded nationally; and
- Accountable for their performance against strong national standards.
More information on Local Hospital Networks.
National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital ServicesThe National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services implements the public patient access to elective surgery, emergency department and sub-acute care services elements of the National Health Reform Agreement.
National Health Reform Progress and DeliveryView the National Health Reform Progress and Delivery report.
The Tobacco Plain Packaging Information Kit provides practical information on the responsibilities and obligations of retailers and other suppliers of tobacco products under the new Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011.
eHealth.gov.au is your gateway to Australia's personally controlled electronic health record system, linking you to information about eHealth records and the system itself. Visit www.ehealth.gov.au
On 20 April 2012, the Prime Minister and Minister Butler unveiled a comprehensive package of reforms to build a better, fairer, more sustainable and more nationally consistent aged care system.