(Sorry for the brevity below, but I’m posting this in extreme hurry…but am continuing to update the links)
Here you can read the Opposition’s election health policies released today. And here is the Australian General Practice Network’s unfavourable review. “A major step backwards,” says the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association. Too hospital-centric, says the Consumers Health Forum. “Will do nothing to improve health services in the bush,” says the Rural Doctors Association of Australia.
This analysis of Abbott’s health policy from a fellow Crikey blog, Larvatus Prodeo, concludes: “Malcolm Fraser said this morning that Abbott’s mob were unfit for government. Elect them at your peril.”
And below is a statement distributed today by the NSW Health Director-General, Professor Debora Picone. Croakey readers have already been in touch to say it looks like a case of deja vu. Or back to the future, perhaps…
“Today the Premier Kristina Keneally and the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, Carmel Tebbutt have released a discussion paper proposing the establishment of 17 Local Health Networks in New South Wales.
You will recall that in April this year the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments (except WA) reached agreement to reform health care in Australia, to make our health system more sustainable, improve patient care through strengthened local decision-making and improve integration between Commonwealth and State Health Services.
The establishment of Local Health Networks (LHNs) are a key component in driving the implementation of the reforms. As you know, senior health officials and I have been holding forums around the State to seek the views of community, clinicians, and health managers on the best way to approach the creation of the LHNs.
We have used your feedback to develop criteria for the establishment of the networks and drafted a proposal that the Minister and I are now seeking your feedback on, along with that of community members and representative organisations.
The Discussion Paper represents the next significant step in the reform process and proposes 15 LHNs comprising a group of hospitals with geographical or functional links which will work closely with new Medicare Locals to ensure better integration of services. In addition there will be 2 specialist networks – the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (Randwick and Westmead) and Forensic Services.
The paper gives a practical outline of the responsibilities of LHNs including: local planning and delivery of clinical services, budget management, clinical governance, patient services, infection control and workforce management.
The paper also includes a commitment to ensure that some of the gains made in recent years such as clinical service networks and our focus on the health needs of the population continue. This reflects the very strong feedback of our clinicians.
Each LHN will have a Chief Executive and Governing Council which will comprise members with a variety of health, clinical, business and other skills. Local clinicians will be included in the membership of governing councils.
I would urge you to have a look at the paper (www.health.nsw.gov.au <http://www.health.nsw.gov.au> ) and ask that you provide us with your thoughts and comments over the next four weeks.
Once the boundaries are finalised we will be making the necessary changes to establish the Local Health Networks which will replace the current eight Area Health Services. It is anticipated the bulk of the changes will be in the senior levels of management.
Some key principles will underpin these changes including:
· No disruption to direct patient care services
· These changes will not result in reduction of front line staff
· Openness and transparency in providing information to staff
I am keen to minimise any disruption to you or your colleagues as we transition to the new structure. And I am committed to maintaining regular contact with you, as will your direct managers so as to keep you informed.
I recognise that the transition to LHNs presents some challenges but the scale of national health reform also provides us with great opportunities to improve our already world class health system so that we continue to deliver the best possible patient care.
This is an important time in NSW Health and your input is key in making the best decisions for our public health system. I will continue to meet with staff over the coming weeks and I look to forward to receiving your feedback.
Professor Debora Picone AM
Meanwhile, Croakey would very much like to hear readers’ assessments of both the Coalition policies, and the NSW plans…