IPART recommends improved NSW health system

The NSW health system can be improved by cutting red tape for clinicians, renewing the focus on chronic care and working towards a nationally consistent reporting system, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has said.

The IPART has released a report, Framework for performance improvement in health, aiming to evaluate the performance and funding framework for the NSW health sector based on national and international best practice.

The report covers areas including patient safety and satisfaction, service quality and equity, chronic care, reporting and benchmarking of performance as well as funding arrangements.

IPART chairman Michael Keating said the review was timely, with the negotiations over the health care arrangement between the Commonwealth and State governments underway. 

“Australia currently achieves good health outcomes and our national expenditure on health is not excessive, when compared with countries like the United States.

“However, there is growing pressure on the Australian health system from ageing, chronic diseases and demand for more expensive treatments and procedures. Australia’s health system is also very complex because of the involvement of three levels of Government and the private sector in funding and delivery,” Dr Keating said.

The report made 44 recommendations concerning reporting, funding, performance indicators and allocation of resources by the NSW Department of Health.

It identified integrated e-health and patient systems, increased collaboration with area health services and improving feedback to clinicians as some of the key factors to improve the sector’s cost efficiency and safety.

Dr Keating said health spending accounted for 27 per cent of the 2008-09 State budget, and without systematic changes the expenditure level was projected to rise to 36.6 per cent by 2044. 

According to the report, NSW has higher costs than the Australian average for acute hospital service, partly reflecting higher medical and salary costs.

“These pressures will reinforce the importance of making the best use of our health expenditure by all levels of Government and improving the planning and performance monitoring framework sed by the NSW Department of Health,” Dr Keating said. 

Click here to view the report.

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