Australia: A national hospital network

Health Law Bulletin - November 2010
Last Updated: 18 November 2010
Article by Alison Choy Flannigan
This article is part of a series: Click Introduction for the previous article.

National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement

On 20 April 2010, COAG agreed, with the exception of Western Australia, to sign the National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement (NHHN). One of the most significant changes will be the requirement that existing health services will become smaller Local Hospital Networks (LHNs).

The NHHN suggests that the aim of the LHN's is to decentralise public hospital management and increase local decision-making to better meet local needs. The agreement states that ideally LHN's are to consist of a single or small group of public hospitals and other health services with a geographical or functional connection.

Each LHN will be run by a Chief Executive Officer and Governing Council. Governing Council members will be appointed under State legislation by State Health Ministers. Each LHN's CEO will be appointed by the Governing Council, with the approval of the State Health Minister or their delegate, and will be accountable to the Governing Council.

LHN's will be responsible for:

  • negotiating and agreeing with the relevant State Government a LHN Service Agreement and any necessary adjustments;
  • managing the LHN's budget as determined by the LHN Service Agreement;
  • developing a strategic plan for the LHN, and implementing an operational plan to guide the delivery of the services, within the agreed budget under the LHN Service Agreement;
  • providing to States sufficient information regarding actual service levels delivered to enable them to inform the Commonwealth of the payments to be made; and
  • receiving Commonwealth funding for delivery of services from the Funding Authority in that State as agreed under the LHN Service Agreement.

LHN's will also be responsible for:

  • employment of LHN staff in line with remuneration and employment terms and conditions established by State governments in workplace relations agreements;
  • local implementation of national clinical standards to be agreed between the Commonwealth and States on the advice of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care;
  • local clinical governance arrangements;
  • providing information to States at their request, for the purpose of enabling the relevant State to provide information and data; and
  • maintaining accountability under and subject to State financial accountability and audit frameworks.

National Health and Hospitals Network Bill 2010 & the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Under the NHHN new national clinical standards strengthened clinical governance will support clinicians to lead the drive towards continuous improvement in quality and safeguard high standards of care.

The Commonwealth Government has introduced the National Health and Hospitals Network Bill 2010 into Parliament. If passed, the Act will commence on 1 July 2011.

The Bill establishes the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care as a body corporate. The Commission is currently part of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.

Whilst the role, governance and funding arrangements for the Commission will continue, its role will expand.

The Commission has been developing draft National Safety and Quality Healthcare Standards (NSQH Standards).

NSW reform

On 4 August 2010, NSW Health released a Discussion Paper 'Health Reform in NSW' containing its proposals for how LHN's should be distributed throughout NSW.

On 29 September 2010 the NSW Government outlined the future shape of their health system, with the announcement of 18 proposed LHN's to strengthen local decision-making and community involvement in health service delivery. The 18 networks will be as follows:

  • eight will be geographically based and cover the Sydney metropolitan region;
  • seven will be geographically based and cover rural and regional NSW; and
  • three specialty networks will focus on Children's Health, Forensic Mental Health, and services delivered by St Vincent's Health.

The NSW Government has subsequently introduced into NSW Parliament the Health Services Amendment (Local Health Networks) Bill 2010 (NSW).


Potential legal and other issues arising from a National Hospital Network include:

  • legislation throughout the States and Territories will need to be reviewed and amended to enable the new structure;
  • appropriate governance arrangements and dealing with conflicts of interests;
  • potential liability of members of the Governing Council/ Community Boards;
  • the levels of delegation, functions and responsibilities of the Governing Council/Community Boards;
  • measures to deal with non-performance of the Governing Council/Community Boards;
  • measures to deal with disputes within the Governing Council/Community Boards;
  • dealing with existing contractual relationships, including procurement and infrastructure contracts;
  • the role of organisations in the private sector (such as Affiliated Health Organisations) who currently operate public hospitals or provide public health services under contract; and
  • the transition of the employment of staff, particularly staff that are currently deployed across a number of facilities.

© DLA Phillips Fox

DLA Phillips Fox is one of the largest legal firms in Australasia and a member of DLA Piper Group, an alliance of independent legal practices. It is a separate and distinct legal entity. For more information visit

This publication is intended as a first point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

This article is part of a series: Click Introduction for the previous article.
This article is part of a series: Click Baxter Breaches of the Trade Practices Act bring $4.9m penalty for the next article.
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.