The Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit report released on Thursday, May 1, 2014 proposes a series of public sector cuts, including the abolition and merger of pivotal health agencies. The Commission, appointed in October 2013 to review government functions and performance, is chaired by former Liberal Senator, Amanda Vanstone and the ex-heads of Finance and Treasury departments, Peter Boxall and Tony Cole.
The Commission cites 22 principal bodies within the current health portfolio and 66 associated boards, councils and committees. Their report highlights a series of potential benefits to be gained through substantial health and medical research reforms, including an improvement in patient outcomes, efficiencies, better data collection, analysis and reporting on health outcomes.
Although the report falls short of recommending the abolition of any health bodies, it proposes the amalgamation of various bodies into a new Health Productivity and Performance Commission through the merger of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian National Health Performance Authority, parts of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, the National Health Funding Body and the National Mental Health Commission.
The report recommends consolidating five bodies into the Department of Health: the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority and National Blood Authority, the General Practice Education and Training Ltd and Health Workforce Australia and the Professional Services Review scheme.
In a move set to raise eyebrows within the pharmaceutical industry, the Commission proposes the approval of all new medications be streamlined through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and that TGA advisory committees undergo review.
Other pharmaceutical industry bodies set for review include the Life Saving Drugs Programme Reference Group, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Remuneration Tribunal and the Australian Community Pharmacy Authority.