The five-year agreement on public hospital funding between the Australian Government and all states and territories is being independently reviewed as agreed and commissioned by all Australian Health Ministers.
The funding and delivery of public hospital services in Australia is governed by the National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA), as agreed by all state and territory governments with the Commonwealth in 2020 and runs to 2025.
Two independent reviewers, Ms Rosemary Huxtable PSM and Mr Michael Walsh PSM, have been appointed to the review and will commence work immediately.
Ms Huxtable and Mr Walsh both have long experience at the most senior levels of public service and are highly respected in the fields of health and public policy. Ms Huxtable is the former Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Finance and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Mr Walsh is a former Director-General of Queensland Health.
The NHRA sets out arrangements for public hospital funding. While the states and territories have primary responsibility for public hospitals, the Australian Government makes a significant contribution to their costs through the NHRA.
Under the Terms of Reference, the Review will consider whether the objectives of the NHRA are being met, including:
- the impact of external factors (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) on the demand for hospital services and the flow-on effects
- the performance of small rural and small regional hospitals
- the implementation of the long term reforms and other governance and funding arrangements, and
- any unintended consequences such as cost-shifting, perverse incentives or other inefficiencies that impact on patient outcomes.
It will also consider whether the NHRA remains fit-for-purpose given shared priorities for better integrated care and more seamless interfaces between the health, disability, and aged care sectors.
The Review will complement other work between Health Ministers to make it easier for Australians to access healthcare and relieve pressure on our public hospitals.
The reviewers will provide an interim report to all Health Ministers in August 2023, and a final report in December 2023.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“There’s no doubt that hospitals around the country are under pressure.
“The Australian Government is committed to strengthening Medicare and reducing the pressure on our hospitals so they can provide the quality care our people deserve.
“This review will help identify areas for improvement and I welcome working with all states and territories throughout this process.”