Health reform in Australia, ANF expressed concerns

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In responding to the Australian government’s announcement of the make-up of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) expressed concerns regarding the future direction of health reform in Australia.

“While there are good people on the commission, and we welcome the appointment of an experienced nurse, many people with a well demonstrated commitment to reform have been overlooked,” Ged Kearney, ANF Assistant Federal Secretary said.

“Reform of public sector financing for health services ought to be the priority of the commission, as should be a review of the current policy of using public funds to subsidize private health insurance companies.”

The ANF cautioned that unless there is input from true health reform advocates the opportunity for change will be missed.

The make-up of the commission, with four doctors, creates an imbalance that is not reflective of the true nature of health care delivery in Australia and signals that the government has not heeded advice regarding health reform.

“Whilst they are skilled, knowledgeable and ethical professionals, it is difficult to believe that anything more than the status quo will be maintained,” said Ged Kearney, Assistant Federal Secretary. “True health reform needs a commitment to fundamental reform including a change to the current health funding mechanisms. We also need a total review of health workforce education, models of care and ways of using our existing workforce more effectively. These are areas for which the medical profession has stubbornly resisted change.”

At a time when Australia’s health system is facing increasing challenges, innovative health care delivery needs pioneers. What we don’t need is more of the same.

“Health reform is long overdue if we are to meet the health needs of the community into the future,” Ms Kearney said.

Source: Australian Nursing Federation, Australia

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