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reforming the health care system « Previous | |Next »
January 20, 2006

The Productivity Commission has just released its report about refoming Australia's health workforce. Health care reform is sorely needed in Australia:


It addresses the issue of the healthcare workforce because there are workforce shortages across a number of health professions (especially noticeable in rural and remote Australia) and, with developing technology, growing community expectations and population ageing, the demand for health workforce services will increase while the labour market will tighten.

Hence Australia has an increasing workforce shortage that cannot be meet by doctors, no matter what the AMA spin says about a doctor is a doctor is a doctor, or that Australians want quick and affordable access to a doctor, not a doctor substitute. The AMA is just another bully-boy trade union into restrictive trade practices. Australians turn to non-medical health professinals because they offer a different model of care to that provided by the GP. Competition and consumer choice is what is needed.

The GP shortage means the end of medical dominance, the patch protection by the AMA, and the GP acting as the gatekeeper to the healthcare system. Will the Howard Government have the courage to further that process? It all depends on who is the health minister and why they have been put in the job, doesn't it. Will a reformer be put into the job? Or a free marketeer? Or a timeserver beholden to the Canberra health bureaucrats?

The Productivity Commission, to its credit, does point in the right direction. It says that:

is critical to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the available health workforce, and to improve its distribution.The Commission’s objectives are, therefore, to develop a more sustainable and responsive health workforce, while maintaining a commitment to high quality and safe health outcomes.

The reason fo the AMA's negative response is the Commission's proposal to improve funding-related incentives for workforce change through:
...the transparent assessment by an independent committee of proposals to extend MBS coverage beyond the medical profession; the introduction of (discounted) MBS rebates for a wider range of delegated services; and addressing distortions in rebate relativities.

That opens the door for allied health professionals to play a more substantive and independent role in the provision of quality and cost effective health care.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:58 AM | | Comments (2)


What did you think of the recommendation to establish a national accreditation board? More entropy to the centre? Anti-federalism? Justified centralism?

I agree that the AMA needs to be kicked on the side of the head. They are extracting rents from Australian health consumers.


A national accreditation board is a good idea.

The way things are orgnized now is that everything is state based and the centre is hollow. The centre needs some power, if only to bring the recalcitrant states into line.

I agree with you about the AMA's patch protection. And their health service is limited, can be shoddy,and marked by bigotry and prejudice