Tanya Plibersek takes Health reins
A CABINET reshuffle is being seen as an opportunity for new Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and the government to back away from the 1 July deadline for the introduction of a personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR).
Former Health Minister Nicola Roxon was promoted to Attorney General in the reshuffle, which was triggered by the resignation of Small Business Minister Nick Sherry.
RACGP president Professor Claire Jackson said Ms Roxon’s contribution over nearly five years had been valuable, but the college would have liked more consultation on some recent decisions.
“Tanya Plibersek comes with a strong record in her previous portfolio and the college looks forward to an early meeting,” Professor Jackson said.
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said Ms Plibersek’s ministerial experience and commitment to social equity and social justice made her well-equipped to take on the health portfolio. “There is still a lot of work to do in bedding down the government’s health reforms, and challenges remain in areas such as primary care, aged care, mental health and dental care,” Dr Hambleton said. “We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister at the earliest opportunity to discuss a range of issues including primary care reforms and the need to reverse the cuts to the Better Access mental health services available through general practice,” he said.
Professor Jackson said the transition from divisions to Medicare Locals, mental health and the introduction of the PCEHR were the big issues for the new minister.
“The introduction of PCEHR and the unpreparedness of the sector is a major concern,” Professor Jackson said.
“It would be much better for the government to recognise there will be an impaired implementation [if the system is rushed to meet the 1 July deadline]. It’s the middle of December and there is still a significant amount of work to do. We don’t believe the sector is ready for the first of July.
“We’re still engaged in discussions with the department and there are still many questions that need to be answered and we would like to sit down urgently with the minister to discuss what needs to be done,” she said.