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Health COAG meets

The Federal and State and Territory Health Ministers met in Melbourne recently at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues.

The meeting was chaired by the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy and welcomed New Zealand Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman as a participant.

The Ministers considered a draft of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment Bill 2017.

Once enacted, the Bill will make a number of important reforms to the operation of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme and the powers of National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. The Bill responds to recommendations arising from the Independent Review of the National Scheme undertaken in 2014–15.

All Health Ministers also endorsed a revitalised agenda to streamline the conduct of clinical trials in Australia. Clinical trials are an important driver in improving health outcomes through access to new drugs, devices and treatment.

Under this directive, all Governments have agreed to redesign trial operating systems around central coordinating units that will make it easier to conduct and participate in safe, high quality clinical trials. The Commonwealth has committed funding of $7 million over four years to support jurisdictional clinical trial reform.

The Ministers noted that timely negotiation of expiring National Partnership Agreements (NPA) was important for each jurisdictions’ planning and delivery of services. They agreed to continue a cooperative dialogue to progress discussions about a range of expiring funding arrangements to ensure current care and timely preventative services can continue to be delivered to the community.

Medical research at Commonwealth and State levels;  re-exposure prophylaxis for the prevention of HIV; meningococcal W; ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; digital health, childhood obesity, the implementation of the Health Care Homes program; end of life care; and the medicinal cannabis were all also discussed at the Health COAG.

In addition, the Ministers agreed that the Fifth National Mental Health Plan will re-emphasise its objective of suicide prevention and will therefore become the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

They also agreed to a national opt-out model for long-term participation arrangements in the My Health Record system.

Chris Johnson