BCA Welcomes First Dose of Health Reform

Federal government plans to overhaul Australia’s public hospital system are an important step in shaping a better system to meet Australians’ healthcare needs into the future.

BCA President Graham Bradley welcomed the Prime Minister’s leadership in embarking on this important area of national reform, and for acknowledging that health funding must deliver better health outcomes and greater accountability, not just savings.

“Improving hospital effectiveness is a major piece of the health reform puzzle. It must now form the basis for a broader reform agenda that supports better governance of the entire health sector. Health must be seen as a critical area for microeconomic reform alongside other areas such as regulation and infrastructure,” Mr Bradley said.

“As the BCA has said in its 2009 paper Fit for the Job, health reform must reshape the system to better respond to 21st century health conditions, address inequities in healthcare access and outcomes, reduce medical errors and change the way we organise service delivery to reduce waste and increase patient focus,” he said.

“The Prime Minister indicated today that he will have more to say about health care in the lead up to the election,” said Mr Bradley. “Our hope is that future announcements include a serious overhaul of health care that supports people to stay healthy by prioritising preventative health care.”

As the BCA has highlighted only about two per cent of health expenditure is currently directed towards prevention and health promotion, with 82 per cent going to care and service provision including hospital, dental, medical services, medicines and capital.

While the BCA supports the move to a national funding model of our public hospitals, Mr Bradley said it would be important to ensure the establishment of local hospital networks did not add new layers of bureaucracy. “It will also be important that commercial and business management skills are injected into the governance structures for these local health networks,” he said.

The BCA views health reform as one of the most important and challenging aspects of national policy because of its call on the federal Budget but also because it underpins Australia’s productive capacity and individual wellbeing.

“Health reform is one of the BCA’s top priorities because Australia’s economic and social prosperity relies on the health of its population,” Mr Bradley said.

“If we improve our health system, more Australians will lead fulfilling lives, including finding and staying in jobs in which they work effectively.”