NSW will back health shake-up

ONE of the most senior members of the NSW Cabinet has said the State Government will support the Federal Government’s radical health shake-up, if it provides the best outcome for patients.

However, Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, in Lismore yesterday, said the State Government was still examining the proposal announced by Prime Minister this week and had yet to make a decision on it.

Under the proposal the Commonwealth would be responsible for funding 60 per cent of the running costs of the nation’s hospitals and cover the total bill for GP and primary care services, but would claw back 30 per cent of the states’ GST revenues to add to the existing Federal health budget.

The proposal would also change the way health services were delivered, with the Commonwealth providing funding directly to 150 regional health networks, which would then assign funding to individual hospitals.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this week delivered an ultimatum with the proposal, demanding the states accept it or see it put to a referendum, which polls suggest would be likely to approve the plan, and have it imposed by force.

Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt gave the announcement a lukewarm reception on Wednesday, saying the State Government would ‘be carefully looking through the detail’ of the plan.

However, Mr Hatzistergos, who was NSW Health Minister for nearly two years between 2005 and 2007, and for another fortnight last year, said the State Government would not necessarily oppose the plan.

“The details are still being provided, so we can’t respond as a government, but our priority has always been what’s in the best interests of the health of the community, and we wouldn’t stand in the way of anything (that would improve that),” Mr Hatzistergos said.

“The priority must always be the outcome.”

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