Health reform: full steam ahead?

WHEN Labor stampeded into government with its Kevin 07 electoral campaign, it was on the promise it would deliver significant health reform to a degree not seen since Federation.

Kevin Rudd threatened a refer­endum to secure a federal takeover of public hospitals if the states didn’t improve their service delivery, and promised to shorten hospital waiting lists, to close the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and to improve access to doctors with his $275 million GP super clinic scheme.

When Julia Gillard stepped in as caretaker Prime Minister in June last year, she insisted she would pursue national reforms “until the job was done”.

Then nothing. The steam train of reform didn’t even seem to leave the station.

For example, the super clinics scheme was widely criticised as taking too long to be implemented and being unlikely to solve access issues. A report released by