Australia’s healthcare reform body is criticised for its narrow membership

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 06 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:524
  1. Melissa Sweet
  1. 1Australia

The body set up by Australia’s new Labor government to reform the country’s healthcare and hospital system does not represent some important groups, including consumers, indigenous people, and the non-medical workforce, critics say.

The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, which is charged with drawing up a blueprint for the future healthcare system, will be chaired by a senior medical executive of a private health fund and includes four doctors, two health policy consultants, two former politicians, one nurse, and a health economist with experience in academia and bureaucracy.

The former Australia Consumers’ Association, now called Choice, and the Consumers’ Health Forum of Australia joined many health industry leaders in expressing concern at the commission’s lack of representation of health service users.

“If we’re trying to reform the system, the people who actually interface with that system at every level are missing,” said Mitch Messer, chairman of the Consumers’ Health Forum.

Members of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, which since 2003 has been agitating for fundamental changes to the healthcare system, also noted the omission of many of the most prominent advocates for reform.

Robert Wells, director …

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