Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Australia's new national health policy to be

I fear that the Rudd Government is fast out-running my capacity to keep up. Even while wrestling with issues associated with Australia's new draft national curricula, reports were emerging on the outline of the proposed national health policy. This appears to involve, among other things, movement towards a case-mix funding model focused on "efficiency" issues. For someone like me with a regional focus, this sets alarm bells ringing.

The pay for performance approach is already in place in Victoria and South Australia. In Victoria at least, it has already led to problems with hospitals cooking the books, manipulating statistics to try to get incentive payments.

The states are, apparently, to be given one month to respond.

The solution to trying to do too much that I talked about in Mr Rudd's mea culpa and the way ahead, is not to try to do more. I really don't see how any Government can manage so many important issues at the one time. According to the SMH story linked above:   

The changes run the risk of potential administrative debacles similar to the insulation fiasco, but a senior source told the Herald the government had spent the past six to eight weeks double-checking to ensure the new system would be sustainable.

This may be true. But think of the poor electorate that has to struggle with emissions trading, environmental delivery fiascos, the My School web site, a new national curriculum and a new national health policy all at the one time. And that's just the start.

For the first time, I am beginning to wonder whether the opposition might not actually win the next election, or at least come far closer than anyone would have expected. This is not a party political comment, just a somewhat confused personal statement.

I just don't see how the Government can manage so many contentious issues at the one time. It's not just the practical strains on an already stretched system, but also issues management in a highly complex and rapidly evolving environment.

Getting major change through requires a highly disciplined focus. I just don't see it here.     


Anonymous said...

Hello Jim

This flurry of announcements is probably more to do with the political need to ‘move on’ from the insulation problem. I don’t see how you (or any member of the public) could be expected to keep abreast of all of these developments - and in fact that is probably the intent.

The rapid timing of announcements which makes you uneasy is more likely to be driven by the politics of the moment.

Your comment that you “don't see how the Government can manage so many contentious issues at the one time” is in fact just what we elect our governments to do. (I expect while Winston was planning Normandy there was still a devoted department somewhere or other sorting out water, sewerage and gas)

It’s all just politics as opposed to policy. And both sides are equally guilty, equally deceptive.


Jim Belshaw said...

Hi David. I am sure that the flurry is driven by the politics of the moment. However, my problem remains that if, as I believe, the Government has already experienced delivery problems across a range of policy areas for the reasons I have set out, then adding major load to a system already experiencing strain is likely to make things worse.