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Are we there yet? A journey of health reform in Australia

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Five years on from the establishment of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission in March 2008, it is timely to review progress. Here, I provide a reminder of the context for reform, a high-level summary of some of the actions taken to date, and some personal reflections and commentary highlighting areas of concern and priority as we continue our reform journey. In presenting this commentary, I hope to pull together the big picture and raise the profile of the many actions underway, some of which are not much in the public eye. A more comprehensive monograph was recently published for the University of Notre Dame Australia College of Medicine Health Leadership Series.1

The context for reform

In the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, the Australian health system was in crisis. Pressure on public hospitals, quality and safety issues, and poor morale in the health workforce were combined with a “blame game” of finger pointing between federal and state governments. There was public confusion about who was in charge. Community concern was on the rise,2 and the momentum for reform was palpable,…