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Challenges in health policy: the next 10 years

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Hospital governance that prioritises waiting times or patient throughput does not adequately address health care quality

At the 2007 federal election, Kevin Rudd announced plans to reform the health system. The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) was established the following year to find solutions. In 2010, Rudd presented his response to the NHHRC’s report, proposing local hospital networks interfacing with primary health care, with governance in which health professionals would play a part.1 Regrettably, other forces with a focus primarily on external regulation of hospitals subsequently came to bear, and this became formulated as national policy by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).2 But does the framework of the COAG agreement deliver what is needed?

The NHHRC saw that health care costs, internationally, were rising well ahead of the consumer price index. State governments, with fixed revenue bases, are unable to fund this. The first, welcome, outcome of the COAG agreement was a progressive increase in the federal share of funding from 40%, building to 50% by 2017.2

In the context…