Standing Council on Health Communique - 8 November 2013

Australian Health Ministers met in Launceston today for a meeting of the Standing Council on Health (SCoH). The meeting was chaired by Michelle O’Byrne, Tasmanian Minister for Health.

Page last updated: 08 November 2013

PDF printable version of Standing Council on Health Communique - 8 November 2013 (PDF 356 KB)

8 November 2013

Items discussed are below


Ministers welcomed the announcement by Federal Health Minister, Peter Dutton, that he had commissioned a review of the troubled Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records scheme. To be chaired by Mr Richard Royle, the Review Panel is expected to report to the Minister by mid December 2013.

Immunisation Strategy

Ministers noted the National Immunisation Strategy for Australia - which sets out a plan for key actions over the next five years to help lift childhood immunisation rates. The Strategy priorities and actions include:
  • Ensure secure vaccine supply;
  • Continue to improve vaccine safety monitoring systems;
  • Strengthen monitoring and evaluation of the National Immunisation Program through assessment and analysis of immunisation register data and vaccine-preventable disease surveillance;
  • Ensure an adequate immunisation workforce through promoting effective training for immunisation providers.
Immunisation and school entry: Ministers also discussed whether there was a need to strengthen the requirements to provide immunisation records for school entry. Ministers were not supportive of banning children from school entry if they were not fully vaccinated. However, Ministers agreed to a stocktake and review of current immunisation requirements for school entry across states and territories to identify suitable models of use at a national level.

Smoking in prisons

Ministers were updated on moves by Queensland to ban all smoking in Queensland prisons from May 2014, by Tasmania from February 2015, the Northern Territory government’s implementation of bans in its Darwin and Alice Springs correctional facilities as at 1 July 2013 and actions in NSW. Ministers noted that 2012 data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed little progress has been made in reducing smoking prevalence in the prison population compared to the declines in national smoking rates over the past decades. Ministers agreed to raise the issue with the Corrective Services Administrators’ Council and noted that the Federal Minister for Health intended to raise the matter with the Commonwealth Attorney-General for further action.

Tobacco excise

Ministers welcomed the announcement by the Federal government that it will progress the 12.5 per cent increase in tobacco excise over the next four years to respond to smoking related cancer.

Tax Concessions

Ministers welcomed the decision by the federal government to not proceed with the proposal to put a cap on the tax deductibility of self- education expenses. The tax benefit supports health professionals to continue their professional development and to meet their mandatory professional development requirements. Ministers also welcomed the Commonwealth government’s reinstatement of FBT entitlements for car leases for health and not for profit sector workers.

Papua New Guinea Nationals using Public Health Facilities

Ministers discussed Queensland's concerns regarding the impact on Queensland's health system of treating PNG nationals who access Queensland Health facilities. Ministers also expressed growing concern about the treatment costs for refugees, asylum seekers, international students and tourists in Australian public hospitals. The Commonwealth asked states and territories for further details and agreed to work closely with jurisdictions on this issue.

Health Professionals Prescribing Pathway

Ministers today approved the Health Professionals Prescribing Pathway which will provide a way for health professionals, other than medical practitioners, to prescribe medications. The pathway sets out the steps required for a health professional to achieve safe and competent prescribing of medicines within their scope of practice.

Ministers congratulated Tasmanian Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne for chairing SCoH for the past year and welcomed the new Chair, New South Wales Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

Contact: Ben Wild, Minister Michelle O’Byrne’s office – 0459 801 969

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