A REGIONAL representative must sit on the committee setting the price of medical procedures under the Federal Government’s proposed case-mix model, the chairwoman of the North Coast Area Health Service Advisory Council, Hazel Bridgett, said yesterday.
Ms Bridgett said this was one of the key issues to come out of a half-day meeting of representatives from all area health services across the State with Premier Kristina Keneally and State Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt in Sydney yesterday.
“Providing services in rural and regional areas is more expensive than providing the same services in the city,” she told The Northern Star from Sydney yesterday.
“We suggested to the Premier that she tells the Prime Minister that there should be a rural/regional person on the pricing authority.”
Ms Bridgett said rural and regional hospitals faced additional costs such as transport and longer patient stays due to distances from medical care.
Describing the meeting as positive, she said the Premier stayed for the whole time to hear their opinions on the Federal Government’s proposed health reform.
Addressing the meeting before it broke into workshops tackling different topics, Ms Keneally said the Rudd reforms were a ‘generational opportunity’ to fix the ailing health system.
“It may not be a perfect opportunity but it is incumbent on us to try with all our skill and expertise to shape the best outcome out of the potential that is now presented,” she said.
“If for no other reason than that major change to our health system is now unavoidable.”
Ms Bridgett said the meeting, which included North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford, was supportive of Canberra’s reforms but added more detail was needed before it is ticked off.
She said those at the meeting also wanted to see the Government’s plans for primary care, aged care and prevention. The workshops looked at reform planning, funding, governance, standards and the impact on rural hospitals.
Mr Rudd announced early this month that the Federal Government would fund up to 60 per cent of all health services, infrastructure and research costs in pubic hospitals.
Late yesterday Mr Rudd released a series of policies dealing with doctor training, and GP services.
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