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Mental health a COAG priority

Federal, state and territory health ministers have agreed to work in partnership to address the nationally critical issue of mental health. Ministers also agreed to work towards reforms in aged care, regulation in e-cigarettes, and the next national hospitals agreement.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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Health ministers have unanimously agreed to work in partnership to address the nationally critical issue of mental health.

This historic breakthrough sets a new direction that will help deliver a seamless integrated mental health system – a once in a generation reform that puts the patient at the centre of care. It is an early profound response to the draft recommendations of the Productivity Commission.

Mental Health is a priority for the Morrison Government and our Long Term Health Plan. I have been advocating for partnership with the states and territories, as also confirmed by the Productivity Commission draft report.

The draft report highlights the great national task of removing barriers to care, and ensuring that people can easily access the right support where and when they need it.

Significantly for the first time ministers also elevated the Quality Use of Medicine and Medicine Safety to be a National Health Priority.

This immediately responds to one of the key findings of the Aged Care Royal Commissions interim report regarding chemical restraint. Further actions will be outlined in coming weeks.

In addition, ministers expressed their strong support for maintaining the existing restrictions on nicotine based e-cigarette use. Ministers also expressed concern at the emerging evidence of non-nicotine based e-cigarette use and health effects, and the international evidence of e-cigarette uptake by non-smokers.

All ministers agreed unanimously to immediately refer the safety of non-nicotine based e-cigarettes to the Chief Medical Officers for urgent review.

I also want to acknowledge constructive progress on the next national hospitals agreement, which will deliver over $131 billion in funding to states and territories to support their hospitals to continue to deliver world class services. We have charged our most senior officials to progress this work urgently.

Importantly, we also agreed to overcome barriers to primary care service delivery in rural and regional Australia through more flexible models of care.

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