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In February 2010, the Australian government was reported to be considering developing a website enabling the nation's 768 public hospitals to be compared in terms of infection rates, ICU mortality rates, medication errors and waiting times. In May 2010, the Sun-Herald newspaper used publicly available information to create the MyHospital website enabling comparison of NSW public hospitals in terms of emergency response times, surgery waiting times and other performance measures.
The NSW government instituted an inquiry into the public hospital system of NSW. Undertaken by a lawyer, Peter Garling, the report resulted in 139 recommendations. The government has responded by accepting 134 of these.
Australia has a sound safety record in maternity care but there are concerns that women have a lack of choice with respect to types of care they can access, and that good maternal health outcomes are not consistent across the country and population groups. As part of its election commitments, the new federal goverment promised to reform maternity services. As one of its first steps it conducted a review of maternity services. This survey reports on the outcomes of the review report.
The number of caesarean births in Australia is increasing and there is concern about the risks and health care resources used for the procedure. In the state of New South Wales, caesarean delivery accounts for 28% of all deliveries. The policy aims to reduce the number of elective caesarean births without a medical indication, avoid elective caesarean section before 39 weeks gestation and ensure that women understand the implications of an elective caesarean section.
A number of States in Australia are providing information to the public about average waiting times for elective procedures. The policy is being publicised as a means for GPs and their patients to try to access surgery faster. In additon, elective surgery coordinators have been employed to improve scheduling and waiting list practices, including ensuring that individual patients are on one list and to investigate ways of reducing postponement of surgery.
Despite the fact that all Australian jurisdictions have in place legislation protecting whistleblowers, recent events have demonstrated that there are still barriers to whistleblowing in relation to perceived problems in the health system. Reducing such barriers is an important strategy in quality improvement for the health system, as it increases the transparency of the system's processes for dealing with threats to the quality and safety of health care provision.
The New South Wales Health Department has recently introduced a Predictable Surgery Program which consists of a series of strategies to ensure timely access to surgical services. One strategy to be adopted is 23 hour care units which are based on the premise that the majority of surgical care can be administered within a 24 hour period in a non-ward environment. A number of pilot projects have been undertaken and evaluated in preparation for the roll out of this strategy.
One goal of the NSW Cancer Plan 2004-2006 is to ensure that clinical practice is driven by evidence from research. The Standard Cancer Treatment (CI-SCaT) protocols are delivered via a website which provides clinicians, patients and carers with information about chemotherapy cancer protocols, including evidence, cost, drug dose calculation, treatments and side effects.
The NSW Chronic Care Collaborative involved 22 teams representing 18 Area Health Services in NSW. Collaborative methodology identified, disseminated and implemented best practice for Heart Failure and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Lessons learned from both successful and unsuccessful interventions have been an important outcome for teams and others undertaking improvement work. A formal evaluation of the Collaborative has been undertaken.
In June 2005, the Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee released a report, titled "the cancer journey: informing choices". The committee was made up of 2 Senators from the governing coalition parties, 3 from the opposition party and 1 independent. The report examines the key areas of multi-disciplinary and integrated service delivery and the use of complementary and alternative treatments. It made 33 recommendations aimed at improving treatment choices and outcomes for cancer patients.