Health Department boss: ‘doing nothing is not an option’

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SPEECH: The enormous challenges in health policy are actually an opportunity, the Health Department boss says. He outlines the reform agenda around primary and mental health, aged care and funding responsibility.

We are going through an exciting time of change, of innovation and of opportunity — looking to transform Australia’s health and ageing system to create a dynamic and responsive system that meets modern needs.

I’ve been secretary of the Health Department for 17 months now and I came to the job with quite a different perspective. I spent 12 years working in the health system running hospitals and health services in Queensland and New South Wales and then I left to do other things. So after 11 years out of health I’ve found myself back at the centre of health as the federal secretary of Health.

My time both inside and outside the system gives you an interesting perspective. Coming back, I saw a fragmented and disconnected health system. I saw disconnect between primary, acute and aged care. Between states, territories and the Commonwealth. And between the public and private systems. I saw not one health system, but many.

We are faced with many challenges such as government overlap, inefficiencies in the system and a need to reform systems such as Medicare and private health insurance to ensure they reflect modern Australia.

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