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Australian Health I ssue - Essay Example

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Australian Health Care Reform Introduction Among underdeveloped countries, the insufficiency of health care resources is always a matter of primary concern. Such should not be the case for Australia, however, since the country has the best health care educational system in the world (Cross, 2009), and substantial resources are devoted to the upkeep of its citizens’ general health…
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Download file to see previous pages Despite this fact, however, problems in workforce shortages threaten to compromise the delivery of adequate health care in the country. The mounting problems in this sector have recently sought to be addressed by the National Health Reform Agreement arrived at by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in April 2010, the latest in a series of health care reforms pursued in the country over the decades. The agreement guarantees provision by the Commonwealth of no less than $16.3 billion in additional growth funding to the States and Territories, within the period 2014 to 2020 (AHMC, 2011). The principal directions are provided by the eight streams identified in the COAG agreement, and this paper shall treat on the sixth stream concerning the health care workforce. While this discussion on the health care providers is relevant across disciplines, the focal point shall be on the nursing profession, inasmuch as nurses and midwives comprise 55% of the entire health workforce in Australia (Bryce, 2009). The Sixth Stream – Workforce The best-laid plans, though well-funded and sufficiently provided with the necessary logistics, could not hope to attain success if the available manpower pool is inadequate or lacking in the necessary skills. Workforce shortages have plagued the Australian health care system in the last decade, for which reason the development of a skilled and adequate workforce has been specified as the Stream 6 in the Health Care Reform plan presented by the COAG agreement. The stated stream purpose is “to improve Australians’ access to health and aged care services by expanding the health care workforce and providing health professionals with the skills and training opportunities necessary to delivery Australia’s future care benefits” (NHHN, 2010, p. 40). According to the Agreement, substantial resources are to be provided by the Commonwealth in the realisation of the objective of this Stream. In the plan, the Commonwealth has committed to invest over the next four years a total sum of $1.2 billion, for the purpose of providing training to general practitioners and specialists; for supporting nurses working in the areas of general practice, care for the aged, and those working in rural areas; and for providing assistance and support to other professionals in allied fields rendering service in rural communities (NHHN, 2010). In the plan, the Commonwealth commits to fund 60% of costs of staff training in public hospitals, for which the following targets have been articulated (NHHN, 2010, p. 42): 1. Delivery of 5,500 new general practitioners (GPs) throughout the coming decade, amounting to a total of $345 million for the first four years; the target calls for 1,375 additional GPs who are either practicing or in training as of 2013; 2. Designation of 975 places annually as training ground for future physicians in their postgraduate training period, to experience how it feels to have a possible career in general practice; this requires $150 million as of 2012; 3. Provision of 680 additional specialist doctors spread throughout the coming ten years, for which an estimated $145 million shall be provided for the first four years; 4. Creation of a comprehensive and integrated package of programs in order to provide greater support to health profession ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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