500 days since the Government received the findings of the expert review of Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) Minister Ley is now promising to finally do something to act on this crucial Labor health reform.
This is typical of the chaos and dysfunction that characterises this government’s health policy which has seen delay after delay and dysfunction across every area of the health portfolio.
It’s now 500 days since the Government was handed the findings of an expert review which found eHealth records were a piece of critical national infrastructure.
The review found e-health could save the health system $7 billion a year through fewer diagnoses, treatment and prescription errors, and in the process avoid thousands of unnecessary hospital admissions.
This was clearly not the outcome the Government was looking for, given its failure to act.
This is a tragedy, because with Government encouragement and support, e-health still holds out the prospects of revolutionising health care delivery in Australia, while making the system sustainable and better for patients.
What is needed now is a government, and a minister prepared to abandon politically driven attacks on e-health and wholeheartedly get behind the scheme.
The evidence in every jurisdiction overseas that has implemented an eHealth record is that it takes at least a decade to embed the reform. The Abbott government has lost almost two years with its inaction and cost the reform process much more.
Labor knows a properly integrated eHealth record is vital to realise efficiencies in the system – which is why we delivered on the reform in government – and we welcome any news that this vital reform will finally continue.
Sadly, given this government’s atrocious record on health, the signs are not good.
In its first Budget the Abbott Government ripped $57 billion out of public hospitals, announced plans to slug Australians with a GP Tax and higher charges for medicines and slashed a range of crucial health programs.
Despite promising no Medicare Local would close the government has terminated the contracts of all 61 from June 30.
Prevention programs that improve health outcomes and reduce costs and strain on the health Budget have been gutted.
The Minister continues to push for yet another reworking of her three times failed GP Tax, this time in the guise of freeze on Medicare rebates, but again, just weeks before this is due to start impacting on patients through ever increasing gap payments, no details have been confirmed.
Funding for a range of services in drug and alcohol, mental health and rural health programs is still uncertain beyond 2016, with the minister instead opting for a one year delay, continuing the chaos and confusion well into the next year.
Australians deserve better than a minister who puts every tough decision in her portfolio in the too hard basket, and simply kicks the can down the road for another 12 months.
Australians deserve better than a government which only ever sees health as a source for Budget cuts.
Only Labor believes in Medicare, and only Labor will protect Medicare and build the health system, for the 21st Century that Australian deserve.