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NSW is in the process of implementing Australia's health reforms which were agreed in 2010. The most relevant change affecting both the health workforce and the public is the establishment of Local Health Networks which, in NSW, will replace the existing eight Area Health Services. The new 15 LHNs will comprise a single hospital or group of hospitals and other health services that are geographically or functionally linked.
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 Australian government's intervention in the Northern Territory (NT) is the largest whole of government initiative ever undertaken in Australia. The government set up the NT Emergency Response Taskforce to oversee the implementation of the emergency measures aimed at protecting children in Aboriginal communities and normalising services and infrastructure in a sustainable way. Health interventions form a small but important part of the Response, largely centering on child health checks.
On the 24th of April 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) notified the Federal Health authorities in Australia of outbreaks in Mexico, Canada, the United States and Europe of a novel influenza A virus (H1N1 influenza 2009, previously called human swine influenza). Since then the virus has spread to other countries around the world including Australia. As a result, the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza (2008) was implemented.
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.
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 Public Health Outcome and Funding Agreements (PHOFAs) provide funding from the Australian Government to each of the State and Territory governments for a range of public/population health programs. The first PHOFA commenced in 1997 and the current third round covers the period from 2004 to 2009. This survey reports on the main aims and principles of the PHOFAs as well as a review conducted after the second round.
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.
The national and State governments have agreed to establish a National Health Call Centre Network. It will be accessible 24 hours, 7 days a week for the provision of health advice and information. It will be a co-operative arrangement jointly funded by the national and state governments. Funding/Service Delivery Contract(s) will provide for the amount and timing of funding to be given by either each or all of the governments for the management and operation of the Network.
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.