A social experiment that keeps adaptingBMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7150.55 (Published 04 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:55
- Peter J McDonald, director.
- SA HealthPlus, PO Box 65, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Australia's health system has its historical origins in the United Kingdom. Up until the implementation of the NHS, the Australian healthcare system mirrored the British system. The General Medical Council of Great Britain accredited Australian medical schools until the Australian Medical Council was formed in the 1980s; Australian postgraduate medical training is provided through “royal colleges”; the Australian Medical Association emerged out of the BMA in the 1960s; the public health and hospital systems of Australia are modelled on their British counterparts; and the overall organisation of health services revolves around the pivotal role of the general practitioner.
Formation of the NHS was a defining event for Australian health because of the Australian decision not to follow Britain into a nationalised health system. Though Australian health systems are built on the British model, they have evolved into an Australian version that is currently known as Medicare. The principles of Medicare are similar to those that underlie the NHS—namely, equitable access of all citizens to government funded quality health care—but the current Australian systems of healthcare organisation and funding bear little resemblance to the NHS. In Australia most medical services are provided by private general practitioners and specialists on a fee for service basis that is …