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National health priorities: COAG Health Council


Paul Hayes


16/04/2018 3:07:12 PM

Australia’s health ministers signed off on a number of key healthcare items at last week’s COAG Health Council meeting.

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Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt met with state and territory health ministers at last week’s COAG Health Council meeting. (Image: Mick Tsikas/AAP)

Australia’s federal, state and territory health ministers came together at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council in Sydney on Friday 13 April to discuss a range of national health issues.
 
Here’s a round-up of what was agreed upon:
 
Mandatory reporting requirements under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law
The ministers agreed to draft a nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting, proposing exemptions from the reporting of notifiable conduct by treating practitioners. Western Australia’s current laws would remain.
 
The proposed legislation will include strong protection for patients and will remove barriers for registered healthcare professionals to seek appropriate treatment. The legislation will specifically include a requirement to report past, present and the risk of future sexual misconduct, as well as a requirement to report current and the risk of future instances of intoxication at work and practice outside of accepted standards.
 
Real-time prescription monitoring
The health ministers agreed to progress national real-time prescription monitoring as a federated model, with jurisdictions committed to progressing development and adaptation of systems to connect to federal systems to achieve a national solution.
 
Streamlining application and approval process for unregistered medical cannabis products
Ministers agreed to support the Federal Government to progress the development of a single national online application pathway to access unregistered medicinal cannabis products.
 
The proposal is to streamline access to medicinal cannabis by developing a single entry point that covers both federal and state and territory application and approval processes for unregistered medicinal cannabis products.
 
Improving the primary care response to family violence
Ministers agreed that relevant stakeholders would be consulted on the role and scope of primary care in responding to family violence, asked to identify barriers that may impact on primary care providers performing this role and recommend options to address this issue.
 
In addition, Ministers agreed to develop further training materials and resources with the RACGP and to examine the implementation of a trial on family violence training in two jurisdictions via the Primary Health Networks.
 
Endometriosis Action Plan for Australia
In acknowledgment of the significant impact on thousands of women and families, Ministers noted that an endometriosis action plan is being developed by the Commonwealth to ensure practicable and achievable outcomes for the women of Australia.
 
The Commonwealth will provide the draft action plan to jurisdictions to identify further key areas of research, awareness and education, and clinical management and care that may contribute to the action plan under development.
 
Overseas medical professionals
Health ministers supported the importance of trained and experienced medical personnel in all areas of Australia, subject to and consistent with priority longstanding principles of employment first going to Australian citizens.
 
The ministers agreed to work with the Federal Government to ensure there are streamlined visa arrangements to support pathways for overseas students graduating in Australia, and senior international medical graduates.
 
Review of the organ donation, retrieval and transplant system
Ministers agreed that the Commonwealth undertake a review of the organ donation, retrieval and transplantation sector in collaboration with states and territories. The review will examine transplantation services and identify barriers to equity of access to waiting lists and other services.
 
Digital Health Update
Ministers agreed in principle to a new Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health (IGA) for the period 2018–22. This will replace the existing IGA, which is due to expire 30 June.
 
Increasing the minimum legal age of tobacco purchase to 21 years
The ministers discussed a proposal to increase the minimum legal age of tobacco purchase to 21, and agreed to refer that proposal to Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council with input from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for advice.
 
Impact of the National Bowel Cancer Screening expansion on colonoscopy demand and waiting times
The ministers agreed the Commonwealth and states and territories should work together to ensure that future infrastructure and workforce capacity and development are better matched to the expected increase in demand for bowel cancer screening.
 
More detailed information is available on the COAG Health Council website.



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